A Norfolk casino worker who stuffed thousands of pounds into his socks before escaping to Thailand has been jailed for a year.
Peter Smith stole GBP 8,500 in one night while working at the Palace Casino in Yarmouth in May. The 37-year-old cash desk worker has spent much of his life working in casinos all over the world – but was yesterday told his career was over after he admitted theft.
Norwich Crown Court heard Smith, of no fixed address, had racked up substantial poker debts and seized the opportunity to make some easy money from the crime. But his own defence conceded his actions were not entirely motivated by the need to pay off debts as he later squandered much of the cash.
Prosecutor Chris Youell told the court Smith had started at the newly-opened casino in February. But suspicions soon arose about the handling of takings in the casino.
He added: “CCTV showed him taking money from a till and placing it about his person and trying as best he could to cover up the fact he was taking large sums of money as the shift progressed.”
Smith, who was living in Cobham at the time, immediately went missing and an international warning was sent out to casinos to avoid employing him. He fled to Ireland to repay his debts before flying to Thailand. When he was caught he had just GBP 360 left.
Andrew Oliver, mitigating, said Smith had a gambling problem and was feeling the pressure of his debts. “He realised it was a relatively easy way to acquire a large sum of money,” he added.
However, his actions were “glaringly obvious” to other casino workers. Mr Oliver said: “The company itself has suffered a substantial loss but it is not a vulnerable company by nature and he was not stealing from the elderly or those in care.
“He stole to pay off debts but by going to Thailand he showed a degree of extravagance.”
Recorder Simon Spence jailed him for a year and ordered him to pay GBP 360 in compensation. He also ordered Smith to forfeit his casino worker’s licence and disqualified him from the gambling trade for ten years.