Lavant pub manager fined for stealing from employer

Phillip Southgate, 35, of Birdham Road, leaving Worthing Magistrates' Court on September 24. Picture by Eddie Mitchell
Phillip Southgate, 35, of Birdham Road, leaving Worthing Magistrates' Court on September 24. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

A PUB manager was fired shortly after he was found to have transferred himself £1,455.55 from his employer, a court heard.

Phillip Southgate, 35, of Birdham Road, Donnington, told magistrates he was ‘guilty by mistake’ of taking money from the Earl of March pub, in Lavant.

Phillip Southgate, 35, of Birdham Road, leaving Worthing Magistrates' Court on September 24. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

Phillip Southgate, 35, of Birdham Road, leaving Worthing Magistrates' Court on September 24. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

He told Worthing Magistrates’ Court yesterday (September 24) that he accidentally transferred himself £1,455.55 from the chip and pin machine, when in fact he meant to transfer £14.55 to check if it was working after a malfunction.

“He then put his head in the sand and didn’t do anything about it,” said Southgate’s defence counsel Peter Long.

Prosecutor Martina Sherlock told the court the machines could give refunds to customers as well as taking payment.

“To enable this function a supervisor has to use a four-digit code and at this particular public house there were only four staff who had that particular pin code and Mr Southgate was one of them,” she said.

A few days after the withdrawal was made on July 18, pub landlord Sharon Ruth Thompson noticed the withdrawal was made when she was looking at the accounts.

“The premises is covered by CCTV,” Ms Sherlock told the court. “She viewed that and saw Mr Southgate was the only one that could be seen in the bar area, however the camera doesn’t include the machine itself.”

At the time of the 8.50am withdrawal Ms Sherlock said there were only three people in the pub and Southgate was the only one with the code. The account the cash was sent to was later identified as Southgate’s.

His defence counsel Peter Long told the court his client’s mistake once he transferred the money was then panicking and not immediately owning up.

“It’s not a very sophisticated theft if one was going to engage in that type of thing,” he said. “Electronic machines are very easily tracked. Taking out the till is very hard to trace.”

Mr Long said theft became a dishonesty the moment Southgate took control of the money and realised it was not his. He claimed it was immediately swallowed by his overdraft and he could not pay it back at the time.

Ms Sherlock said: “What he said happened in his interview at the police station was that he admitted the offence but initially made a mistake with the amount put in his account. He put it in wrong. Instead of putting in £14.55, he typed £1,455.555.

“He realised as soon as the receipt came out but he panicked as he had only just been offered the manager’s job.”

Magistrates sentenced Southgate to 180 hours of unpaid work over a 12-month period.

He was also ordered to pay back the cash plus costs and a victim surcharge totalling £325. The total amount he must pay out is £1,780.55.

Chairman of the bench Nick Myers told Southgate: “You were put in a position of trust by your employer and you abused that trust which is a really bad thing to happen in a business if you can’t trust the people you’ve brought in.”

Southgate has since been dismissed from the Earl of March pub.

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