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British Museum worker stole cloakroom cash to feed gambling

PUBLISHED: 15:00 05 January 2012

The cash was stolen from the British Museum in Bloomsbury. Picture: Tim Ireland PA Wire/Press Association Images

The cash was stolen from the British Museum in Bloomsbury. Picture: Tim Ireland PA Wire/Press Association Images

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A Kentish Town pensioner who worked at the British Museum for 20 years was sacked after stealing money to feed his gambling habit, a court heard yesterday (Wednesday, January 4).

Senior management at the museum in Great Russell Street became suspicious of staff swindling money from its cloakroom and installed covert CCTV, Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court heard.

John Toomey, 65, of Montpellier Grove, was caught on six separate occasions issuing old tickets to visitors and pocketing £1.50 each time.

Prosecutor Emily Maunders said police were investigating similar cases at the British Museum.

Toomey had worked at the museum for 20 years as a gallery assistant and in security.

He was dismissed following the thefts in June last year.

Myles Jackman, defending, said Toomey had “got in over his head” after a betting spree on the Cheltenham races, wracking up £50 of debt to a friend.

Mr Jackman said: “Mr Toomey has admitted he has a significant gambling problem.

“He has gambled throughout his adult life and due to the fact he has not had a pay rise in the last three years, he has been gambling the same amount with less money.”

He added: “Mr Toomey said in a police interview ‘I wish I could turn the clock back. I feel extremely foolish and ashamed of what I have done’.”

Toomey, who receives an annual pension of £4,800 from the British Museum, pleaded guilty to the six charges of theft by an employee.

The presiding magistrate fined Toomey £300 and said “it was a serious breach of trust between you and your employer”.

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