A DRUG-addicted cashier stole thousands of pounds from his employer to fund his cocaine habit and finance his lifestyle.

Winchester Crown Court heard that Matthew Ryan, of O’Bee Gardens, Tadley, had worked as a cashier in the cash handling centre of G4S for 11 years.

Prosecuting, Jane Terry said: “His role was to filter money into a money counting machine that would then identify which notes were unsuitable for further use.

“In the course of this employment, he would handle very large sums of money over the course of a shift.

“In late December last year, he was seen to take some notes from the bundles of cash and hide it in the waistband of his trousers.”

During a subsequent shift, he was watched by other managerial staff, who saw him removing notes.

Ryan, 36, was taken to a search area, where £220 made up of £20 notes was found in his waistband.

When questioned by his bosses, Ryan admitted he had been stealing from them for over four months, and said he had stolen between £200 and £300 every shift “to fund his cocaine habit and to finance his lifestyle”.

Although Ryan estimated that he had stolen around £20,000, G4S reviewed their CCTV and estimated the amount to be just under £10,000.

Defending Ryan, Rajesh Pabary said he had become depressed following the death of his mother, had become addicted to cocaine, and had spiralled into debt.

He said: “He started taking cocaine in the latter part of last year and was spending around £700 a month on cocaine.”

The court heard that Ryan, a married dad-of-three, earned around £1,300 a month after tax.

Sentencing Ryan, who pleaded guilty to two charges of theft and one charge of a matter relating to theft, Judge Keith Cutler said he was taking into account the “excellent character references” provided for Ryan by his family and friends.

He said to Ryan: “I want you to thank these people who have written in to me on your behalf”, adding that he had been given the impression of a “good family man”.

He handed Ryan a 12-month community order with a requirement of 150 hours of unpaid work.

He did not impose a compensation order, but warned Ryan: “It might be that G4S come to you”.