Walsall family-run firm ‘hurt’ after manager’s theft

A cash-strapped manager stole up to £3,000 from the family-run business where she had worked for nine years.

Playland Amusements in Walsall town centre. Photo: Google StreetView.
Playland Amusements in Walsall town centre. Photo: Google StreetView.

Michelle Blakemore, regarded as a friend by her trusting boss, had access to the safe, bingo float and changing machines at Playland Amusements in Walsall town centre, a judge heard.

Her boss became suspicious after spotting discrepancies in the accounts earlier this year and inquiries revealed they had been doctored to hide money being taken from the safe and float, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

The 33-year-old manager was called to a meeting on July 31 but did not attend and police were called, said Mrs Sati Ruck, prosecuting. Blakemore immediately admitted stealing on a weekly basis for at least two months and insisted she had also started paying back some of the money to balance the books.

“She had moved money about and falsified the accounts to cover her tracks indicating there had been planning,” continued Mrs Ruck.

Ms Julie Evans, from Playland Amusements, said in a statement: “We are a family-run business and she was a trusted employee who I regarded as a friend of the company.

“This has hurt and made me distrust all the people who work for us.”


The defendant, who was of previous good character, turned to crime after her partner of 15 years walked out, leaving her with debts and other money worries but was too embarrassed to tell her employers, the court heard.

Ms Nicole Steers, defending, said: “She was going through difficulties both financial and emotional after her partner of 15 years got up and walked out without explanation.

“They had both run up debts and she was left with all of them. Sadly, she took the wrong turn to try to resolve the problems and started dipping her hand into her employer’s pot. She is deeply ashamed.”

Blakemore, of Teddesley Street, Walsall, pleaded guilty to theft by employee and received a 12-month jail term, suspended for 18 months on condition she completes a rehabilitation course.

Recorder Jennifer Jones told her: "This was a breach of trust but you were faced with difficult personal problems. Those do not excuse what you did but they allow me to suspend the inevitable custodial sentence."

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