South Yorkshire employee stole over Â£22k from phone boxesÂ Â
A South YorkshireÂ man who pocketed over Â£20,000 of cash he was employed to collect from phone boxes has walked away from court with a suspended prison sentence.Â
Between December 2016 and December last year, Paul Walker stole a total of Â£22,484.80 from a number of differentÂ BT phone boxes, Sheffield Crown CourtÂ heard.Â
Throughout that period Walker was employed by the company, G4S, who were contracted by BT to empty the phone boxes.Â
'There had been suspicions leading up there were majorÂ improprieties in the North East area that had drawn the attention of the BT office,' said prosecutor, Neil Coxon.Â
Mr Coxon said it was soon notedÂ that Walker, 48, was making regular calls to report faults on several ofÂ the telephone boxes he was collecting from.Â
He added: 'A covert camera was fitted to a telephone box this defendant was scheduled to collect from on December 4, 2017, and captured what this defendant was doing.
'He was brought into account for the discrepancies.
'He initially denied he was stealing money from the call boxes.
'He was shown the footage and accepted what he had done, and was remorseful for it.'
Walker, who has no previous convictions, was found to have been stealing from a call box '˜effectively every week' between December 2016 and December 2017, the court heard.Â
In addition to the amount stolen by Walker, Mr Coxon said BT had estimated the cost of sending engineers to the phone boxes to check them for faults as being Â£8,250 but accepted the material costs of such work as being Â£190.42.Â
Walker, of Regent Street, Rotherham pleaded guilty to a charge of theft by employee at an earlier hearing.Â
Rebecca Tanner, defending, said Walker was normally a man who led a law-abiding life, but had made an error in judgement at a time when he was experiencing problems in his personal life.Â
'Your Honour is dealing with a man, who worked for the same employer for over a decade earning little above minimum wage,' said Ms Tanner, adding: 'There is no evidence of extravagant spending or living, but there is evidence of him abusing alcohol to cope with problems he was experiencing.'
Judge Michael Slater sentenced Walker to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered him to complete a six month alcohol programme, as well as up to 20 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement.Â
Mr Coxon said proceeds of crime hearings will be scheduled for the new year, to determine whether any of the money stolen by Walker can be recovered.Â