TUI thanks police for support after travel agent pinches almost £50,000

A TRUSTED assistant manager pinched almost £50,000 while working at a Kendal travel agency.

Thirty-year-old Layla Elizabeth Hayhurst committed the offence at TUI over more than three years – between late 2016 and early 2020 – having worked for the company all her adult life.

Hayhurst’s criminal conduct actually came to light when a cash bag was mistakenly reported missing. As CCTV was examined, she was seen to steal £35 from a till.

“Security went back in history and saw further instances of exactly the same thing,” prosecutor Brendan Burke told Carlisle Crown Court, which heard she’d managed another TUI outlet.

It emerged that in total, on 12,461 separate occasions, Hayhurst had pinched £49,220.95. She did so by capitalising on a foreign currency buy-back guarantee through which £3.95 cash refunds were issued but not measured or audited. Other stores averaged around a dozen refunds annually.

She swiftly admitted her wrongdoing when interviewed by police and, during a first court appearance, pleaded guilty to theft by employee.

She was sentenced on Monday when Judge Nicholas Barker heard she had been a victim of serious domestic abuse by a “deeply and dangerously controlling” former partner who had received a jail term as a result. He had been unaware of her theft.

Chris Evans, defending, highlighted her contrition. “She echoes candour in a pre-sentence report,” said Mr Evans. “I have to concede the breach of trust issue. I have to concede it is an aggravating feature this took place over a period of years rather than weeks.”

But he stressed the offence was committed “against very serious personal circumstances”.

Told that Hayhurst, of Siding Close, Lancaster, was left suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and still impacted by the abuse, Judge Barker suspended a 12-month prison sentence for two years. Hayhurst – a woman without any other criminal convictions – must complete 200 hours’ unpaid work and an electronically monitored three-month night-time curfew.

“It seems to me that undermined your own judgement and therefore affected your conduct,” the judge said having read of her PTSD. “But I do observe that your offending carried on after the relationship ceased and after your former partner received a custodial sentence.”

A TUI UK spokesman said after the sentencing: “We take all criminal activity very seriously and will always investigate and report such matters to the police where evidence of wrongdoing exists. We would like to thank the police for their support and quick action in dealing with this case so effectively.

“We hope the outcome serves as some comfort to those impacted.”

The Westmorland Gazette | News