Prestons staff 'could take gold from tin'

Prestons of Bolton

Prestons of Bolton

First published in News The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , crime reporter

THE employee accused of stealing nearly £30,000 from a Bolton jeweller told a court he flagged up several discrepancies when cashing up each day but it was “ignored” on the advice of a senior staff member.

Christopher Kempster, who worked at Prestons of Bolton, is accused of running three schemes to pocket money belonging to the firm from its cash-for-gold department.

The offences are alleged to have taken place between December, 2011, and July, 2012, with Fiona Wise, prosecuting, pointing out the 101 discrepancies signed off by Kempster amount to roughly £1,000 per week being unaccounted for during the period.

The court heard from Kempster that he regularly discovered discrepancies and reported several to his line manager, Kate Connelly, including one relating to a £750 gap.

In police interview, PC Nigel Schofield, who led the investigation, asked Kempster: “You would know if there was a discrepancy, it would get ignored and then you would go on to the next day?” Kempster said: “Yes.”

In his own evidence, Kempster said: “She (Miss Connelly) went ‘Chris, tell you what we will do, we will count it up at the end of the day and have another look in the morning. No one’s going to nick it are they?”

Kempster also said other staff could take money from the “gold tin”, the float used to buy gold from customers, if he or Miss Connelly were not available, while cash would sometimes be sent to the sister store in Wilmslow, which he said might not be logged.

Kempster, aged 23, of Woodgate Street, Great Lever, also told the court there was no training manual or programme offered to him when he joined in 2010.

The shop’s owner Karl Massey would also sometimes take cash from the “gold tin” which could be missed and no one questioned him as “it was his money”, according to Kempster.

When asked why he did not report cash discrepancies to Mr Massey, and go above Miss Connelly’s head, Kempster said: “There were a lot of things, not just in gold, that were going wrong at that shop. Mr Massey was the last person you wanted to find out.”

Disciplinary action was taken by Prestons against Kempster who has since had his employment with the jewellers terminated.

The case continues.

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