THE ASSISTANT manager at an Accrington betting shop stole £1,400 from her employer because she was being threatened over a drug debt.

Blackburn magistrates heard Natalie Anwar had started using cocaine on nights out but moved onto crack and quickly found she was unable to fund her addiction.

Anwar, 37, of Castleton Avenue, Burnley, pleaded guilty to stealing £1,400 from Betfred.

She was made subject to a community order for 12 months with 15 days rehabilitation activity requirement and 80 hours unpaid work. She was ordered to pay £659 compensation after the court heard the balance had been recovered through wages and holiday pay.

Tracy Yates, prosecuting, said Anwar had been working as deputy manager of Betfred's Accrington branch at the time of the offence. £1,400 had been transferred from one branch to another and she had stolen it.

Anwar had initially been offered a caution on condition she repaid the £659 but having lost her job she couldn't raise the money and was charged.

Gareth Price, defending, said Anwar had lost her job and because of the offence could not get other employment.

"She was given three months to pay the balance but could not manage it," said Mr Leech.

He said after she started taking drugs on nights out things spiralled out of control and she built up a debt.

"The people she owed the money to knew where she worked and where she lived and started putting pressure on her," said Mr Leech.

"Out of desperation she took this money.

"It was just enough to pay the debt, she didn't take anything else."