A GAMBLING addict frittered away more than £15,000 stolen from the pub where he was assistant manager, a court heard.

Ryan Tallentire’s unsuccessful spree saw him lose heavily at betting shops and at a casino in the space of four days in February.

He took sums of between £3,040 and £8,000 from takings at The Bishops' Mill, a JD Wetherspoon pub in Walkergate, Durham, each time squandering it in an increasingly desperate bid for a big win.

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Durham Crown Court heard he initially took £3,580 on February 6 hoping to win back £1,200 lost gambling - money saved for a planned spring break in Paris with his girlfriend.

Ian Bradshaw, prosecuting, said Tallentire lost £800 at two bookmaker’s shops on February 7, and, despite some successful bets the following day, it was not enough to make up for his losses.

Having stolen £8,000 from the pub on February 8 he lost £10,000 on the roulette wheel at a Newcastle casino the next day.

His final throw of the dice was to take £3,040 on leaving work at 1.15am on February 9, going straight to the casino where he lost the entire sum.

Knowing the pub takings were to be collected the following days he confessed his actions to a work supervisor.

Mr Bradshaw said: “It would have been discovered the next morning, in any event.”

The court heard it emerged that, contrary to company regulations, a junior member of staff, rather than a senior colleague, was asked to co-sign the books after Tallentire cashed up daily takings.

Tallentire, 23, of Broomhill, Stanley, who has no previous convictions, admitted theft.

Andrew Finlay, mitigating, who handed character references to the court, said: “He’s shown genuine remorse and been frank in interview, making immediate admissions.

“It was going to be discovered fairly soon, but rather than cast blame on others or try to bluff it out, he came clean.”

Mr Finlay said Tallentire worked for the company for five years, rising from bar man, and, “but for his gambling, was a decent, capable, hard-working young man.”

He added that the defendant has sought help from Gamblers’ Anonymous, but is not in a position to pay back the money as he is now on benefits, having lost his job.

Imposing an eight-month prison sentence, Judge Robert Adams said he could suspend it for 18 months due to Tallentire’s “good work ethic and previous good character.”

He ordered him to perform 150 hours unpaid work but, due to his lack of means, made no compensation order.