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Trusted Mecca Bingo Employee Steals £113k to Fund Gambling Habit

mecca bingo employee steals over 100k
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A woman who worked at the Mecca Bingo club in Morden, London, for more than 20 years and was widely considered a “trusted employee” was found to have stolen more than £113,000 from the venue following the loss of her father and suffering from mental health issues.

Alegated for stealing Leah Kember spent twenty years working as an office controller at Mecca club Rosehill, where her main responsibility was to cash up at the end of each bingo session. However, over the course of a year, the 41-year-old illegally transferred £113,851.50 from Mecca Bingo to her personal bank account.

Earlier this month, Croydon Crown Court was told that she worked alone and, as such, she was able to change records without being seen, but there was CCTV evidence. The court heard that Kember both accepted “full responsibility” and was “embarrassed, disgusted, and apologetic”.

The stolen funds were used to pay off gambling debts. Kember was handed a suspended sentence and was then able to leave court a free woman.

Kember is not the first person to steal bingo money in order to pay back gambling debts. We recently reported on the charity manager Natasha Mason who stole £18K from The Fire Fighters Charity in order to fund her gambling addiction.

Investigation Focused on Online Game

According to prosecutor Sonya Foxsmith, a witness was instructed by the head office after discovering that significant sums of money had been paid out. The investigation centred upon an online game that is played live across the UK.

The game is designed to allow just one winner; however, it was found that Kember had been changing it in order to favour the Rosehill venue and moving the funds into her personal bank account.

The investigation also found that she had been changing the winning locations while other areas were also winning. The court heard that Kember could be seen changing the transactions on CCTV footage and that bank statements showed she had made 210 deposits from the Mecca account to her personal account between 1 July 2021 and 13 July 2022.

Mental Health Issues to Blame

Barrister of the accused, Waqar Ahmed, informed the court that Leah Kember carried out the thefts after her partner lost his job and began suffering from mental health problems. The court heard that she also suffered from mental health issues and following the death of her father, she “lost control” and began gambling.

As part of her efforts to pay back her debts, in particular to Mecca Bingo, she began gambling more with the hope of winning enough to cover the sum.

Ahmed explained that Kember accepts responsibility for her actions and that she is ashamed and wishes to make amends. As part of this, she has written to the Mecca organisation about her actions and accepted the “gravity of damage” she has caused.

Prior to these offences, Kember had never been in trouble with the police; she has no pattern of offending and no prior convictions. She has since found new employment.

Handed a Suspended Sentence

It is partly because of this that Kember was handed a two year suspended sentence together with unpaid work requirements. This means, that as long as she meets the conditions stipulated by the court, then she will not have to spend any time in prison.

Crown Prosecutor Sonya Foxsmith requested from Judge Antony Dunne that Kember be made to pay back the full amount to Mecca Bingo. However, as the funds spent were not for personal use but were transferred to Mecca, Kember will not be made to pay compensation.

Judge Antony Dunne concluded the hearing by saying, “You turned to gambling as an emotional release, but soon, and predictably, it became a problem.”

The mentioned cases demonstrate that whether playing online bingo or in a land club, it is always worthwhile making use of the available responsible gambling tools.

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Mike Bennet
Author: Mike Bennett
Dedicated to keeping the spirit of bingo alive. I think bingo sites translate tradition into a modern context and I aim to provide our readers with the latest from the world of online bingo, including industry news, launches, and promotions.

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