THE RETAIL manager for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust stole more than £13,000 over a two-year period to pay off debts, causing suspicion to fall on other members of staff.
When he was first questioned about the missing cash, Timothy Benson claimed he had simply lost a cash bag containing £2,300 and had been trying to replace that money.
But he later admitted that was a lie, and at Warwick Crown Court he pleaded guilty to fraud by abusing a position of trust to take cash and book tokens.
The 38 year-old, of Stratford Road, Alcester, who entered his plea on the basis that he stole £13,150 in cash plus some book tokens, was jailed for eight months.
Prosecutor Scott Coughtrie said Benson worked as the retail manager for the Stratford Birthplace Trust, but was suspended and then dismissed after his dishonesty came to light last December.
The offence was the culmination of a number of incidents over a period of around two years in which money was taken from various aspects of the Trust’s operation and paid into Benson’s account.
Internal enquiries began after staff noticed two banking bags, used by the company which collected the Trust’s takings, were missing from the Trust shop’s safe.
At that time Benson claimed he had lost a single bag containing £2,300 back in April last year, and since then he had been trying to recoup the money to pay it back in.
He was suspended, and was then dismissed in January after further internal checks showed more than that £2,300 had gone missing, and the police were called in.
When Benson was then arrested and interviewed in February, he admitted to the police he had lied to the Birthplace Trust about the missing money.
Mr Coughtrie said the first identified incident had been in April 2014 when the cash collection company had reported that a banking bag containing £1,950 was missing.
He also stole book tokens, and admitted stealing half the takings of the ‘Penny Mangle’ machine – which could take up to £1,000 a week – which he had been responsible for emptying.
Alexander West, defending, said it all began after Benson got into debt, and added since losing his job, Benson had become the full-time carer for his son, who has been diagnosed with autism, and daughter while his wife worked full-time.
Jailing Benson, Judge Stephen Eyre QC told him: “You were in a position of responsibility and trust, and you were able to get away with this stealing because of that position of trust which you abused on repeated occasions.
“Your dishonesty not only affected your employers, but it also had an effect on your work colleagues.”