A GAMBLING addict stole has been jailed after stealing more than £62,000 from the car dealership where he worked.

Accounts assistant Glen Harkness, 30, took the money over a two-and-a-half year period from Greenacre Honda, in Clitheroe.

Appearing at Preston Crown Court with support from his father and brother, the now recovering gambling addict stood with his head down as the court heard he had pleaded guilty to nine counts of fraud by abuse of position.

The prosecution told the court that Harkness, of Whalley Road, Langho had breached the trust placed on him by his employer during his daily task of banking the takings.

Harkness would amend the paying in slips on route to the nearby Natwest bank and would help himself to cash to support his gambling habit. The crimes were committed between April 2008 and January 2011.

The court heard that Greenacre Honda, of Greenacre Street, only became suspicious after financial director Paul Rushton noticed frequent shortfalls in the amount being banked.

He confronted Harkness who admitted the full scale of his fraud, which totalled £62,835.91.

The company was able to claim back the money stolen through its insurance.

Harkness was sentenced to 16 months in prison for each of the nine charges, all to run concurrently.

He is expected to serve half of his sentence in prison and the other half on licence.

Judge Heather Lloyd said: “This was a prolonged and serious act of dishonesty while you held a position of trust, aggravated by the fact you only stopped when caught.

“Knowing that the company was having a financial audit in December you used your intelligence to calculate and manipulate figures.

“The very fact the insurance paid out the money to the company is no mitigation.

“You took the money without any regard of the impact this could have on the company or the jobs of other employees and for that a custodial sentence is the only one appropriate.”

The court heard Harkness, who was dressed in a grey suit, had joined the company in June 2005.

The hearing was told he had gambled from an early age and had been helped financially by his family on several occasions.

He had attended Gambling Anonymous previously but had lapsed back to his old ways at the time of the offences.

Defence barrister, Daniel King QC said: “The defendant has gambled from being an adolescent starting by helping his father complete the football pools.

“At 18 he then received £3,000 left in trust by his grandparents and he gambled the lot.

“Since then he has been on a persistent spiral of decline as he got more and more involved in gambling.”

The court heard Harkness had been trying to secure work in the run up to yesterday’s sentencing but had been unsuccessful because of his pending prosecution.

Even an offer to work voluntarily at the Salvation Army was turned down.

Greenacre Honda refused to comment.