A WHITBY charity shop boss has escaped jail despite stealing thousands of pounds from the British Heart Foundation.
Latvian national Elina Malniece, 31, pocketed takings from the till instead of banking the cash at the end of each day - racking up £4,310 during a month-long period.
York Crown Court heard how in her role as the assistant manager of the British Heart Foundation shop in Whitby, Malniece forged the co-signature of a volunteer to say it was in the bank.
Giving Malniece a suspended prison sentence, Judge Jaqueline Davies said: “You had responsibility to cash up and deal with the income either by placing it in a safe or in a bank account.
“The majority of people working in the shop were volunteers, you were not a volunteer - you were paid, but when an incident like this happens the veil of suspicion falls on everybody.”
Judge Davies added: “Charities like this need all the money that they can take.”
Malniece, of Neath, South Wales, admitted stealing the cash from the branch between August 20 and September 14, 2014, at an earlier hearing.
After she was arrested she brazenly told police she wasn’t responsible for the theft, before admitting what she had done.
Malniece then attended a disciplinary hearing where she told charity directors that she had forged the signature of shop volunteer Peter Chandler.
Prosecutor Nicholas Rooke told the court: “The defendant was employed on behalf of the British Heart Foundation charity.
“One of her duties was to cash up at the end of the day and bank it into an account of the charity or add it into a night safe.
“She completed paperwork but failed to do this between these dates.”
The court heard that the Latvian Malniece was sorry for what she had done - and later realised the stress she put the volunteers at the shop under by stealing the cash.
Keith Whitehouse, mitigating, said: “The defendant does not really know why she embarked on these series of thefts, she was in full-time employment on a reasonable salary but at the time lived with somebody who was unemployed.
“It is clear that it was a somewhat abusive relationship and he had some mental health issues. Out of loyalty she stayed in the relationship for a long period.”
Malniece was sentenced to 48 week prison sentence - suspended for two years.
She was ordered to complete 128 hours of unpaid work, a 28-day curfew and to pay back the stolen cash in full at a rate of £200 per month.