Former Lidl employee avoids jail after admitting refunds scam
A former assistant manager at a Lidl store has walked from court with a suspended sentence for issuing bogus refunds for garden equipment.
Jeffrey Speers (24), from Landseer Street in the Stranmillis area of Belfast, was working in the Lidl store in Ballymoney, Co Antrim, when he put through a number of refunds for garden chippers, garden trimmers, a lawn aerator and other equipment.
The total value of the garden equipment was £530.
CCTV footage showed Speers signing off on the refunds at the tills even though no customers were present.
When his deceit came to light he resigned, but is now working elsewhere.
A prosecutor said the offences happened between July and September 2014 when Lidl suspected a staff member was conducting stock refunds and pocketing the money.
Security camera footage was able to match up with the dates of the transactions which occurred without customers being present in the store.
Defence barrister Francis Rafferty said it was a breach of trust case and said he had no hesitation in accepting the custody threshold had been passed, even though his client previously had a clear record.
Mr Rafferty said when the incidents came to light Speers quit immediately.
He said Speers had no financial need to steal the money and had been a hard-working well-regarded member of staff in a position of trust.
However, the pressure of work became "unbearable" and prescription medicine he was taking had contributed to making him act "completely out of character".
Mr Rafferty said Speers had "behaved inexplicably" and it was accepted the conviction may compromise his new employment.
He said the offences will not be repeated and said his client is in a position to make restitution to Lidl.
He was given a nine month sentence. But suspending the jail term, Deputy District Judge Chris Holmes said it was only the matter of restitution being paid which was keeping the defendant out of prison.