Holly Cull, pictured outside Hove Crown Court, where she admitted fraud by false representation
A Thomas Cook travel agent forged fake customer refunds and stole thousands of pounds before splashing it on a luxury holiday.
Holly Cull ‘racked up huge debt problems’ while living in Lewes, East Sussex, so began creating false refunds at the branch where she worked in Worthing.
The 30-year-old was then able to put just £100 towards a £3,000 holiday, Hove Crown Court heard.
But she avoided jail and was ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work in the community in the next 18 months after she admitted fraud by false representation.
Judge David Rennie accepted that Cull’s fraud was ‘out of character’, and warned her not to behave in such a ‘stupid’ way again.
Pierce Power, prosecuting, told the court the frauds began in March 2017 when Cull worked for Thomas Cook in Worthing.
Between March and August that year, she took £3,885 from the company, and also claimed a £3,323 holiday that she had only paid £100 towards.
Sarah Thorne, defending, said her client admitted her offence at the first opportunity at Brighton Magistrates’ Court last month, and asked for maximum credit off the sentence.
She said Cull has shown ‘genuine remorse’ and had been suffering from a low mood at the time of the offences.
Ms Thorne said Cull has no previous convictions, and is currently working to pay off her debts.
Ms Thorne said: ‘Clearly booking a holiday didn’t help in this situation, she appreciates that was a very silly thing to do.’
Judge Rennie said: ‘This was wholly out of character. It was a really bad choice. ‘You were feeling very low, but now you have lost your good name. That is a punishment in itself, as you are convicted of an offence of dishonesty recorded against you.
‘I recognise you are working hard to pay off your debts before the end of this year. ‘You will probably have to pay Thomas Cook, having taken their money. There must be a short custodial sentence, which will be suspended.
‘Don’t be so stupid as to behave in this way again.’
The judge imposed a three month suspended prison sentence.
Cull, from Portsmouth, Hampshire, must complete unpaid work in the next 18 months.
A spokesman for the Thomas Cook branch in Worthing refused to comment.