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Gloucestershire Business News

Cheltenham pub manager denies £14,225 theft as trial nears conclusion

A former pub manager accused of stealing thousands of pounds from his employers told a jury how 'shocked and scared' he was when he was arrested and handcuffed without warning.

Steven Holmes, 35, now of Cae Bracia, Bridgend, South Wales took the witness stand at Gloucester Crown Court on Wednesday on the third day of his trial.

He has pleaded not guilty to theft.

The father-of-one, who was manager of the Bottle of Sauce in Albion Street, Cheltenham but has since been dismissed, has denied stealing £14,225 from the pub between July 2017 and January 2018.

He told a jury of seven women and five men how he was summoned to the pub on January 31 last year "for a disciplinary meeting" but when he got there a number of police officers arrived.

"I was arrested, handcuffed and taken out to a police van," he said in answer to questions from his defending lawyer Lloyd Jenkins.

"I was shocked and scared."

Mr Jenkins asked: "Did you steal any money from the pub?"

Mr Holmes: "No, I did not."

Mr Jenkins: "Do you have any idea who was responsible for taking the money?"

Mr Holmes: "No, no idea."

The defendant was then asked if he stole the money to pay off his "considerable debts" and he replied: "No, not at all."

It had earlier been suggested by the prosecution that Mr Holmes was in debt, largely due to his betting habits, and stole to pay off the gambling debts.

"That is simply not true," he told Mr Jenkins. "I enjoy gambling, it is true, but it is certainly not a problem. It used to be but not any more."

The prosecution alleged that Mr Holmes stole the money when he was cashing up after shifts and when he should have deposited the pub takings at the bank.

But today the defendant said that eleven other employees had access to the safe and ten other people took turns in doing the banking.

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Prosecuting barrister Susan Cavender asked the defendant about various large sums of cash deposited in his own bank account during the time he worked for the Bottle of Sauce.

They were sums of money ranging from £180 to £2,100.

Replied Mr Holmes: "They come from my sideline of selling protein shakes which I bought cheap as they were out of date and then sold them on to family and friends and people at the gym.

"I paid about £3 a bottle and sold it on for £5. I used to buy up to 500 bottles a time from suppliers in Gloucester and Manchester.

"I also made money from gambling wins."

His Honour Judge Ian Lawrie QC sent the jury home this evening and said that defence and prosecution speeches and his summing up of the case would take place on Thursday morning before jurors retire to consider their verdict.

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