Morden Mecca Bingo employee stole £133k

Leah Kember, of Newstead Walk, worked as an office controller at Mecca Bingo Rosehill for 20 years, with her main duty being cashing up at the end of each session.

But over the course of one year, the 41-year-old transferred £113,851.50 from her former employer into her own bank account.

On Friday (May 3), Croydon Crown Court heard that she worked alone, and was able to alter records without being seen, with evidence on CCTV footage.

The court heard that Kember takes “full responsibility” for the offences and is “embarrassed, disgusted, and apologetic”.

All the money she stole was used to pay gambling debts, it was stated.

Kember was given a suspended sentence for the offence and left court a free woman.

The investigation

Prosecutor Sonya Foxsmith said a witness received instructions from head office upon discovering a significant amount of money had been paid out.

The focus of the investigation centred on an online game, which was played live across the UK.

Despite the game’s premise allowing for only one winner at a time, it was discovered that the defendant had been altering it to favour the Rosehill site and diverting the funds into her personal bank account.

The investigation confirmed that the defendant had been manipulating the winning locations while other areas were also winning.

CCTV also identified Kember making transactions to the bank card, the court heard.

Bank statements found that Kember made 210 deposits from the Mecca Bingo account and directly to her personal bank account, from July 1, 2021, to July 13, 2022.

‘Lost control’

Waqar Ahmed, representing Kember, told the court that she committed the offences when her partner lost his job and was suffering with mental health issues.

The court heard how Kember found herself in the situation due to her own mental health issues, and after losing her dad, she “lost control” and found herself gambling.

In an attempt to address her debts, particularly with Mecca Bingo, she resorted to gambling further in hopes of winning back the money to rectify her situation.

‘Completely out of character’

The court heard that Kember takes “full responsibility” for the offences and is “embarrassed, disgusted and apologetic”.

She has since sent a letter to Mecca Bingo about her actions and understands the “gravity of damage” she has done to the company.

Kember, who has secured employment since the offences, has never been in trouble with the police, and has no pattern of offending or convictions, the court heard.

Suspended sentence

The mum-of-one received a two year suspended sentence and unpaid work requirements.

Crown Prosecutor Sonya Foxsmith requested to judge Antony Dunne that Kember to pay back the full £113, 851.50 to Mecca Bingo.

However, as the money spent was not for personal use and transferred onto the gambling site, Kember was told she did not have to pay any form of compensation.

At the end of the court hearing, Judge Antony Dunne said: “You turned to gambling as an emotional release but soon, and predictably, it became a problem.”

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