A HOTEL worker who stole almost £18,000 from his employer by charging refunds to his bank account from a card processing machine has been spared jail.

Nathan Snowdon, who worked in the restaurant at the plush Aldwark Manor Golf and Spa Hotel, between York and Harrogate, had aroused suspicion from colleagues when he began coming into work on days off.

Checks later revealed that £17,908 had gone from the company’s account to his and that he had failed in an attempt to transfer another £6,180.

Paul Abrahams, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said 22-year-old Snowdon told police he thought he could get away with it and initially he had only been trying for £20.

Mr Abrahams said Snowdon was responsible for financial transactions in the restaurant and was aware of the relevant pin numbers that had to be entered into the machine.

He said: “It [the fraud] was not sophisticated, it went straight into his bank account. But it was an abuse of trust.”

Tom Mitchell, mitigating, said Snowdon, of Shipton by Beningbrough, North Yorkshire, had been surprised himself by the apparent simplicity of the fraud.

The court heard the stolen money had since been refunded.

Mr Mitchell said: “There was some use of the money while it was resting in his account, but there was no net gain.

“The only thing that has been lost is his good character.”

Snowdon had worked for his former employers for five years, but had since left, and had been “stupid”, Mr Mitchell said.

He added: “This was an incredibly unsophisticated form of offending. It was doomed to failure and always bound to be discovered.”

Snowdon admitted a single count of fraud between February and March this year.

Recorder Nicholas Lumley, QC, said it had been deliberate and dishonest and Snowdon had abused the responsibility he had been given.

He said: “You jeopardised the good name of the hotel and the restaurant and let down many people.

“You should be profoundly ashamed at the way you behaved.”

Recorder Lumley said Snowdon’s previous good character and the lack of sophistication to the fraud meant he could suspend a 12 month jail sentence on him for a year, rather than imposing an immediate prison term.

He also ordered the defendant to complete 150 hours unpaid work.