Sat, 14 Sept 2019
A THATCHAM woman with a cocaine and gambling habit abused her hotel job to raid the bedroom of guests.
The 25-year-old then went on a spending spree, buying scratch cards to get cash for drugs.
Management at The Berkshire Arms Hotel, Midgham, investigated and eventually caught the culprit, Adele Finch, by studying CCTV footage, Reading magistrates heard on Thursday, August 29.
The former pupil of St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury, who lives at Wordsworth Road, Thatcham, also abused the trust of a friend by stealing £1,000 worth of camera equipment from her, the court heard.
Anne Sawyer-Brandish, prosecuting, said: “The victims, Maureen and Clive France, left their room at The Berkshire Arms and went out. When they returned there was a text from the Halifax asking them to confirm a number of transactions that had taken place in respect of their debit card. They checked for their wallet and discovered it was missing. The card had been used on six occasions, all contactless transactions.”
Ms Finch also abused the trust of a friend, Jessica Leer, from Woolhampton, by stealing a camera and equipment worth £1,000 before selling it on to secondhand goods stores CeX, Newbury and Cash Converters, Reading for just £185, the court heard.
She admitted committing 10 offences of theft and fraud between April 20 and June 2.
Ms Finch also has a previous conviction for travelling on a train without paying her fare, magistrates were told.
Stephen Collins, defending, said his client suffered from addiction to both cocaine and gambling – “a dangerous cocktail” – and added: “She has expressed considerable remorse and is very much ashamed of her actions.”
A probation officer told the court that Ms Finch had been spending up to £400 a week on cocaine.
She added: “Ms Finch had been working at the hotel for six weeks. Everything was fine until she decided to take the debit card on impulse. She says she does feel sorry for the guests, who would have had their holiday ruined. She used to work in pubs, but there are fruit machines in pubs, which was a problem.”
Ms Finch is now attending appointments at the substance misuse organisation, Swanswell, and has not taken cocaine for three weeks, the court heard.
Magistrates imposed a 12-month community order with a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement.
In addition she was ordered to complete 120 hours unpaid community work and to pay a statutory victim services surcharge of £85.
The camera itself was recovered and the bank has reimbursed Mr and Mrs France to the tune of around £150, the court heard.
Ms Finch was not required to compensate the bank.
She was ordered to pay £250 compensation to Jessica Leer for the theft of the camera lenses, worth £600, which had been sold on and were not recovered.
No order was made for costs because of her lack of means.