Jorun Chang, 58, and Jeanette Warrilow, 59, pocketed £ 20,000 each a year while working at Pavilion Bingo Club, Toxteth, and managed to cover their tracks for four years.
The company was operating at a loss as it ran its scam before being arrested when an eagle-eyed manager found revenues higher than usual after the two friends left, reports Liverpool Echo.
The two moms had worked for Pavilion for more than two decades and Liverpool Crown Court has heard that the historic bingo hall, which is owned by Mark and Gary Armstrong, has around 30 employees.
Prosecutor Cheryl Mottram said the “extremely reliable” women were cashiers, while Chang also acted as a relief officer.
They had to collect customers’ cash for bingo cards and electronic terminals, then manually record the payments on a reconciliation sheet.
At the end of each session, the cashier was to calculate the totals and submit a printout, along with the reconciliation sheet.
In September 2016, manager Philip Corran noted that the receipts for a Saturday session were “considerably higher than normal”.
When he looked at the numbers from previous Saturdays when Warrilow was in office, he realized that the impressions and reconciliation sheets didn’t match because she was entering lower amounts.
Upon returning from vacation, Warrilow was confronted but claimed that she simply made mistakes and left the office.
She was suspended and confessed in a disciplinary hearing that month, when she also apologized.
Ms Mottram said: “When asked if anyone else was involved, she replied that she could not answer that question. “
Chang was on vacation with Warrilow and the receipts showed that she had used the same method to steal money.
Ms Mottram said: ‘A check the week before he left on holiday showed £ 1,400 was missing. “
Records from 2012 to 2016 were ‘thoroughly analyzed’ and revealed that the couple had started stealing hundreds of pounds, but that steadily increased, eventually ‘well over £ 20,000 a year each’.
Ms Mottram said using the lower estimates Warrilow stole £ 83,500 and Chang took £ 99,900.
She said that at times during this period Pavilion was operating at a loss and “staffing levels” needed to be changed.
Ms Mottram said: “The Crown is not suggesting that Ms Chang and Ms Warrilow were solely responsible for these problems, but it certainly wouldn’t have helped the financial difficulties. “
When questioned by police in October, Warrilow said she had been stealing money for up to two years.
She said it was a “temptation” as the management did not check the sheets and “she knew she could get away with it”.
Ms Mottram said Warrilow explained that she was in debt and addicted to gambling and “expressed remorse”.
Chang gave two “no comment” interviews in October 2016 and July 2017.
The two women – both of good character – were not charged until December 2020 and admitted to the theft by an employee earlier this year.
Ms Mottram said the Crown could not provide a satisfactory explanation for the “significant delay” other than the fact that the police officer originally in charge of the case had retired.
Brendan Carville, defending Chang, from Everton, said his client was now working as a pub owner.
He said victims and defendants have had to wait four years for justice to be served and that if the case had been dealt with in 2017, his client likely would have already served prison time and a license period.
Mr Carville then said that Chang replied “no comment” usually in his first interview, at the end he was asked “are you sorry for what you did? “And answered” yes “, so” the police certainly knew that on October 3, 2016, it was an admission of offense “.
He said: “My submission is that this delay, which cannot be put on his doorstep, is such a long delay that your honor can stay the sentence. “
David Woods, defending Warrilow, from Anfield, said she had actually worked for Pavilion and an associated bingo hall – Carlton in Orrell Park where she was a bingo caller – for around 30 years.
He said Warrilow had been a “loyal and hardworking employee”, but during a time of “great financial stress”, including the now resolved gambling issues, she had “taken advantage” of the Pavilion system.
Mr Woods said: “As a result of her actions, she lost her job, her reputation and her good character, and she suffered a lot of anxiety while awaiting this case. “
He pointed out that Warrilow admitted her responsibility “almost immediately” because she “was ashamed”.
Recorder Ian Unsworth, QC, said: “This is both a serious case involving a significant and sustained breach of trust, involving the theft of quite astronomical sums of money from their employers, but also a extremely sad case – that two women In their fifties, now with families, who before this offense, from some time in 2012, were of good character and they threw everything out of their own greed. “
He said Pavilion Bingo Hall was “at risk at the time” and “was operating at a loss” and “the owners did not know how it could be”.
The judge said: “By your actions you have endangered the livelihoods of other people. This business could have collapsed and other honest and hardworking people could have lost their jobs as a direct result of your greed. “
Recorder Unsworth said: “There has been a rather extraordinary delay in this matter. It is downright inexplicable. “
He said the “very sorry history” of the case included a two-year period from 2017 to 2019 “when just nothing happened”.
The judge said: ‘It is inexcusable and I have asked for an explanation from the Chief Crown Prosecutor of Merseyside. “
Recorder Unsworth said he was reducing sentences due to the delay as he jailed Chang for 16 months and Warrilow for 12 months, who wept on the dock while family members in the public gallery sobbed.