A supermarket manager who stole more than €315,000 from his employer to feed his gambling habit put more than 100 jobs at risk.

Wayne Johnston put hundreds of thousands of euro through his Paddy Power online betting account to feed his addiction to betting.

Johnston appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court in Co Donegal charged with theft at Cost Cutters Supermarket in Ballybofey.

The father-of-two worked with the supermarket from 2006 but when he was put in charge of all purchasing and staff in 2009, the trail of thefts began.

The thefts began with small sums but soon mounted up and in one year he stole more than €300,000.

Details of exactly how Johnston, who is originally from Thurles in Co Tipperary, stole the money from his employer was not given during the case.

The court was told that the thefts had a huge personal effect on the owner of the business, Michael Doherty.

He said he learned that money can be replaced but nothing will ever take away the stress and worry as well as the sleepless nights and mental torture that himself and his family suffered.

And he added that without the support of suppliers and partners, the jobs of 100 people would have been in danger.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be the same person again. I lost a part of me,” he said.

The accused told how Mr Doherty was more than just an employer to him and that they had developed a friendship outside of work.

“When the gambling took over I was guilty and embarrassed for taking Michael’s money,” he said.

He added that he never thought of the bigger picture and how it might put the jobs of one hundred people in jeopardy.

“I’m so sorry for what happened. I was very embarrassed and ashamed and I didn’t realise I could have closed doors to his business. I knew I was taking the money but did not realise the damage I was doing to him or his mother and father,” said Johnston.

He said he is now getting treatment for his gambling addiction and his wife Michelle is now in charge of all the family’s finances.

His wife gave evidence saying that the family now speak openly about Wayne’s addiction and if he is ever feeling vulnerable.

The accused said he now has plans to try and back the money to Mr Doherty saying he is prepared to pay €600 each month for the next 30 years as a way of compensating his former employer.

Johnston, who is in his 30s, is currently working for a courier company and his employer is aware of the court case.

Barrister for Johnston, Mr Colm Smyth, SC, suggested to Judge John Aylmer to impose a heavy suspended sentence over the head of his client to ensure he does not re-offend and attempts to pay back te stolen cash.

Judge Aylmer said he would like to hear the opinion of Mr Doherty about the proposed compensation plan offer and adjourned the case until May 4th.


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