A supermarket security guard who had been previously convicted of theft six times swindled £2,700 worth of cigarettes from the Morrisons store he worked in.
Craig Meddings robbed his employer of around 5,000 fags when he was working at the supermarket between August 2020 and August 2021.
However, the 38-year-old had racked up nine earlier convictions for 13 offences, which included six thefts between 2006 and 2017.
This week in court a jury heard how a senior security guard was asked by a colleague on August 18 to look at CCTV footage of Meddings working in the supermarket from the previous day.
Meddings, of Peel Road, Bootle, had worked at the Penketh Drive in Speke, when he was snared by his colleagues, according to Liverpool Echo.
A statement read out in Liverpool Crown Court said: “The CCTV has shown Mr Meddings moving a large quantity of cigarettes from the security cupboard, where we keep such items before they are placed on the shop floor.
“From there, he’s taken them and placed them into the security podium, before moving them again and placing them in a sanitiser unit outside of the store.
“He’s seen at a later time moving them from this location and going out of sight of the CCTV, before returning to the store without them.”
The court heard old CCTV footage was then reviewed, which showed Meddings had used the same method to steal the cigarettes on July 27 and on August 6, 10, 13 and 17.
On each occasion, he stole 1,000 Lambert and Butler Silver cigarettes, valued at £540.
Meddings was arrested and interviewed on August 21, when he confessed.
In an impact statement, Morrisons said the business suffered a financial loss, but there was also a knock-on effect on finances and labor because the store had to employ someone to perform daily stock counts.
Morrison said it was damaging to the reputation of the store, employees had lost trust and confidence, and added: “The security guards’ role is to protect the store and staff.”
Meddings pleaded guilty to five counts of theft by employee.
Mr Bramhall said his criminal record also included three offenses of fraud in 2005, but his most recent convictions were for traveling on a railway without a ticket.
Meddings, who was not represented and defended himself in court, was asked by the judge, Recorder Ian Harris, what he wanted to say about the offences.
He said: “I made a big mistake… it’s one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever done in my life. My family fell out with me about it – I lost a lot of friends.
“Two weeks after I got arrested, I got a new job as a courier for Just Eat. Within two months, I’ve had a promotion to team leader.
“I’m currently working up to 48 hours a week. I’m getting myself back on the straight and narrow. I’ve been seeing a counselor over what I done.”
Recorder Harris said: “It wasn’t a mistake, it was repeated thefts, wasn’t it?”
Meddings replied: “I’m gutted I done it.”
The judge accepted there seemed to be a “deceleration” in Meddings’ offending over the last few years, until the thefts at Morrisons last summer.
Recorder Harris said: “These thefts were planned, they were regular and constituted a gross breach of trust.
“You handed the cigarettes to an accomplice who was waiting outside the store.
“You claim in the pre-sentence report to have had financial problems and needed the money. That, as you well know, is no excuse.”
The judge said Meddings had never been to prison before and he and his partner both had jobs and no financial issues currently.
He said: “I treat your story about committing these offenses because of loan sharks with skepticism – I don’t believe it.
“This was easy money for you, dishonestly obtained, a gross breach of trust, and this type of offending not only affects the public, it causes distress between employees.
“It’s led to Morrisons incurring increased costs and ultimately this type of offending leads to price rises being passed onto customers.”
However, Recorder Harris said: “I think just there may be a prospect of rehabilitation. You have that good paid work at the moment and you tell me and I accept you’re seeing a counsellor.”
The judge handed Meddings 12 months in jail, suspended for two years, with a 12-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and 180 hours of unpaid work.
He ordered him to pay £2,700 back to Morrisons in compensation, plus £425 court costs, and warned him if he ignored these orders it was “at your peril”.
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