A FORMER employee at a Lake District hotel stole food from the pantry in the early hours of the morning, a court heard.

Victoria Graham, of Birch Trees in Ambleside, pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to stealing food to the value of £120 after entering the Windermere Manor Hotel on Rayrigg Road as a trespasser on October 19 last year.

Prosecutor Peter Kelly said the 51-year-old defendant was found putting food into a black bin bag in the pantry area of the hotel shortly after midnight by a night shift worker.

The court heard she told officers in police interview that she was familiar with the locations of CCTV cameras having worked at the hotel for 13 years.  

She told officers she had ‘little memory’ of committing the offence but conceded she gained entry via the kitchen fire exit.

The court heard her contract of employment had been terminated at the start of last year.

In mitigation, Lynsey Oldham said her client was returning to home after she had finished working three 15 and a half hour shifts at another employer.

Ms Oldham added: “She was exhausted and was on the bus home late at night when it went a different route and has ended up in the area of the hotel.

“She had taken her prescription medication which makes her sleepy. She does not remember the incident because of the side effects caused from her medication.

“She is seeing a counsellor for depression, anxiety and PTSD.

“She is currently receiving universal credit and is actively seeking work once again.”

The court heard Graham had no previous convictions.

Magistrates at South Cumbria Magistrates’ Court on May 22 fined the defendant £80 and ordered that she pay £120 back to Windermere Manor Hotel in compensation.

Graham was also ordered to pay court costs of £85 and a £32 surcharge.

The money owed will be deducted from her monthly benefits.