Teenage worker stole from John Lewis store

John Lewis in Sheffield.
John Lewis in Sheffield.
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A troubled teenager stole thousands of pounds from John Lewis in Sheffield where he worked – by making dozens of false refunds.

Joshua Simmons, who is now 19, exploited his position as a sales assistant at the store in Barker’s Pool to carry out the thefts over a period of three months.

He was sentenced to 240 hours of unpaid work and given a 12-month supervision order at Sheffield Crown Court, having pleaded guilty to theft at an earlier hearing

Sales assistants could make refunds of up to £100 without authorisation and, between November 22 last year and February 1 this year, Simmons credited his own account with more than £4,000.

He typically made several refunds in quick succession and, on one occasion, Simmons made 10 refunds in just 20 minutes, totalling just under £1,000.

After suspicions were raised at the store about unusual activity on the tills, Simmons was eventually caught on CCTV carrying out five refunds, each to the value of £99.99.

He also took electrical equipment worth around £1,600 from the store. The items were later recovered.

Judge Paul Watson QC said Simmons had been through personal difficulties that had affected his behaviour.

He said: “I’m really sad to see someone like you - an able, intelligent, hard-working young man with good academic qualifications and showing all the promise for the future - in the dock facing charges like this.

“The terrible time you have been through in recent years doesn’t excuse your behaviour, but it perhaps gives some insight into the reasons you find yourself in this mess.”

Simmons, of St Mary’s Road, city centre, was also ordered to repay £4,440.75 to John Lewis.

He will be required to complete the 240 hours of unpaid work within the next 12 months.

Judge Watson said he had made the unpaid work requirement ‘intentionally large’ to reflect the fact Simmons had committed a breach of trust by stealing the money from the store that employed him, and that a substantial amount of money had been taken.