AN electrical firm’s branch manager stole about £5,000 off his bosses, including charity cash meant for seriously-ill children, a court heard.

Matthew James Taylor, 34, who claimed he was hard-up after a messy divorce, pocketed the £240 proceeds of a raffle, held to raise funds for Derian House Children’s Hospice.

It was one of a catalogue of thefts committed during a four month campaign of dishonesty targeting LED Electrical Ltd, which has premises in Nelson and Haslingden.

Burnley Magistrates were told how Taylor, said to have initially tried to blame another worker for the missing money, owned up to pocketing the raffle cash when he was confronted over the crimes.

He then asked that police not be involved.

He was suspended, escorted off the premises, sacked and then arrested on November 22.

The defendant, who is now working for electrical company Quest and is about to become a father, admitted eight counts of theft and one of false accounting, between June and October, last year.

Taylor, of Lowerhouse Lane, Burnley, was given 18 weeks in jail, suspended for a year, with 160 hours’ unpaid work. He must pay £1,200 compensation.

Enza Geldard, prosecuting, said Taylor started working for LED in November 2009 and was promoted to branch manager at Haslingden, last year.

Bosses later became suspicious over financial discrepancies.

Taylor had no previous convictions.

David Lawson, for Taylor, said he was thoroughly ashamed and embarrassed by what he had done and his family were of the same mind.

He recognised he had to be punished.

Mr Lawson said Taylor had started a new relationship and a child was expected on July 10.

His partner had not been fully aware of the extent of the financial problems.