THE former deputy manager of an outdoor clothing shop splurged almost £2,000 of the company’s money on a weekend spending spree in Manchester, a court heard.

South Cumbria Magistrates’ Court heard how Samuel Russell, of no fixed address, had been given a company credit card to buy refreshments for staff at Alpkit, Ambleside, where he worked.

However, despite being asked to return the card, he instead used it to go on a spending spree between July 10 and July 14, 2019, with purchases including taxis, clothing and a stay at a hotel.

The court also heard how Russell had failed to return a bike, worth £1,200, which he had been given for work purposes. He instead tried to sell it on for £600 to recoup some of the money. The bike was eventually recovered.

In mitigation Trystan Roberts said Russell became involved in gambling in the months leading up to him being given the card, and had also started drinking more.

Mr Roberts said when questioned why the company credit card had not been used for gambling, the defendant said he knew he was 'finished' and was going to lose his job in due course.

According to Mr Roberts, the defendant therefore decided to take the money and 'blew it away' on the weekend in Manchester.

Probation officer Brian Carruthers noted the defendant was at a 'low ebb' when he committed the offence, and had since taken steps to get his life back on track, engaging with mental health services, finding a new job and referring himself to a gambling prevention service.

Russell pleaded guilty to theft and attempted theft. He was ordered to pay back the money he had spent and was sentenced to 25 rehabilitation requirement days and 300 hours of unpaid work.