Store manager stole £45,000 worth of goods

A SHOP manager has been jailed after stealing £45,000 worth of goods from the store where he worked.

Mark Leach, 26, was the wine and spirits manager for the Co-op Superstore in Kettering. He and an accomplice stole thousands of pounds worth of goods when Leach was responsible for open the store early in the morning.

He pleaded guilty at Northampton Crown Court to three offences of theft and admitted stealing cigarettes, DVD players and various Dyson products over an 18-month period.

Leach, of Windmill Avenue, Kettering, was jailed for 15 months at Northampton Crown Court yesterday.

Michael Joyce, prosecuting, said Leach and his accomplice, who worked as a postman, were caught when store bosses installed CCTV cameras to monitor why so much stock was going missing.

They were waiting with police on January 22 when Leach opened the store. The CCTV footage showed him allowing his accomplice into the store to fill rucksacks. The pair were arrested and the two rucksacks were found to contained 1,193 of goods.

Leach admitted they had stolen from the store on at least 45 occasions since October 2002.

The court heard that the accomplice would sell the goods and halve the proceeds with Leach. The accomplice admitted the thefts at Kettering Magistrates Court and was sentenced to 120 hours community service.

Judge Richard Bray said: "This was blatant and persistent theft. I appreciate your co-defendant got what you perceive to be a lenient sentence but it must be pointed out that unlike him, you were in a position of considerable trust."

John Cartwright, for Leach, said he was finding it hard to manage on his 12,000 a year salary and behaved like an idiot.

"He has brought disgrace upon himself and his family," he said.