A BAR manager has admitted stealing £1,400 from two Darlington pubs to repay a debt.

Mark Heseltine, 27, was the general manager of the Golden Cock pub in Darlington town centre when he lifted £1,000 worth of the venue’s takings.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard on Wednesday that Heseltine had drafted in a friend who said he would pay a £1,000 cheque into the business account so the theft would go unnoticed, but the cheque bounced and an auditor became suspicious.

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Heseltine also admitted taking £400 from the safe of another town centre pub, The Joseph Pease, owned by the same man who employed him at the Golden Cock.

Mitigating, Graham Hunsley said Heseltine had borrowed money from his employer and was struggling to repay the amount, plus interest.

He said: “It was fairly unsophisticated theft; he was always going to be found out.”

Mr Hunsley said that Heseltine had genuinely thought that £1,000 was going to be paid into the account by his friend, and that offers had been made since to repay the money via a third party, which Heseltine’s employer had refused.

Magistrates adjourned the case for a pre-sentence report and Heseltine, of Jedburgh Drive, Darlington, is due back in court for sentence on July 16.