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Former manager of Turks Head in Hasketon faces jail after stealing £21,000 from pub

PUBLISHED: 19:23 03 July 2017 | UPDATED: 08:26 04 July 2017

The Turks Head, Hasketon. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

The Turks Head, Hasketon. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

A thieving bar manager betrayed the faith of his employer and locals by squirrelling away more than £21,000 in six months.

Sulayman Sonko is facing a jail sentence after pleading guilty to stealing more than £21,000 from the Turks Head between March 1, 2016 and August 31, 2016. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY Sulayman Sonko is facing a jail sentence after pleading guilty to stealing more than £21,000 from the Turks Head between March 1, 2016 and August 31, 2016. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Sulayman Sonko arrived at the Turks Head, in Hasketon, under the pretence of being trustworthy – gaining popularity among staff and customers, while siphoning company cash into his account.

The 40-year-old, of Lachlan Green, Woodbridge, could face jail when he returns to court for sentencing, following his guilty plea for stealing £21,435 between March 1 and August 31 last year.

Pub owner Jemima Withey, who entrusted Sonko with banking cash receipts, was “heartbroken” to uncover the deception on CCTV.

“He came here with a good reputation,” said Mrs Withey, who took on the pub with her husband in 2015, after a two-year closure. “He appeared hard-working and became very popular.

“We never saw a change in his character until we noticed cash missing.”

According to Mrs Withey, Sonko protested his innocence, claiming he hadn’t time to deposit the money – a shortfall of which showed up in cash drawers, while the safe appeared deficient.

“We then took over the cash banking and noticed a large sum missing,” she said.

“I studied the CCTV with [head chef] Mauli and thought ‘oh, my word’.

“We were heartbroken – horrified.

“He pretended to put money in the safe, but had a large roll of 20 pound notes in the other hand – or he would sandwich a pile between paperwork and walk out.

“We reported it to police and gave him the opportunity to return the money, but he said it wasn’t him and cried.

“I want everyone to know what he did. We felt betrayed.

“People may call me foolish, and it’s left me more cynical, but I put trust in the people I employ.

“We put our own money back into the pub – otherwise we’d have been shutting the doors.”

Sonko, originally from Gambia and known as ‘Saul’, will be sentenced the week commencing August 7.

He had been charged with stealing £29,897.58 but admitted taking £21,435 at Ipswich Crown Court today, when Judge Rupert Overbury told him the crime crossed the custody threshold and may result in jail.

“Don’t go away from court thinking that you won’t go to prison when you come back, as you may very well do so,” said the judge, who will consider alternatives to immediate custody in a probation report.

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