An employee who swindled a north Belfast filling station out of thousands of pounds in a prepaid card scam has avoided immediate imprisonment.
Josh Keys received a four-month suspended sentence for the racket which involved a series of bogus customer refunds.
The 20-year-old, of Melrose Street in the city, was also ordered to repay the full value of the vouchers he took.
Belfast Magistrates' Court heard Keys launched the fraud after he obtained a job at the Fortwilliam Service Station last year.
The scam centred on the garage’s sale of Paysafecards - a prepaid method for making online purchases.
Refunds for several hundred pounds at a time were spotted in a series of unusual transactions attributed to Keys between 11 and 19 April.
He initially claimed customers had bought Paysafecard vouchers which did not print out properly.
However, when CCTV footage was examined, no customers were present for any of the transactions.
Keys was instead putting the vouchers in his own pocket, the court heard.
A prosecution lawyer disclosed: "In total, £2,424 was taken."
Keys pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position.
Michael Boyd, defending, described him as a "complete stranger to the criminal justice system".
"He’s learnt a harsh lesson, realises that he’s staring down the barrel of custody, and he’s ashamed of himself," the barrister said.
"This is hopefully going to be his first and last foray into a criminal court."
District Judge Steven Keown was told Keys had gathered more than £1,000 to help cover his ex-employer's losses.
But imposing four months custody, suspended for two years, Mr Keown directed: "There will be £2,424 compensation, with 26 weeks to pay."
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