A manager of a cancer charity shop in Tenby who fled to Turkey after stealing £5,000 from the store, has been handed a suspended jail sentence.

Forty-eight-year-old Lorraine Kucuk of Holloway Court was the manager of the Cancer Research UK shop situated in Tudor Square when the theft occurred back in 2017, and has evaded justice up until this month, when she was finally sentenced at Swansea Crown Court.

The court heard that part of the defendant’s role as manager of the charity shop was to bank the takings each day, but checks by the cancer charity’s finance team in early May 2017 spotted that the seaside town’s store hadn’t banked any money for 22 days between April and May.

Kucuk was due to appear at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court in September, 2018, charged with stealing cash to the value of £5,238.41 between April 14 and May 7, of 2017, but she failed to appear for the hearing, and Magistrates issued a warrant without bail to secure the defendant’s appearance in court.

She eventually appeared at Swansea Crown Court the following month, where it was indicated that she would plead guilty to theft by an employee.

However, when Kucuk’s plea and sentence hearing was due to take place, it transpired that she had travelled to Turkey; only returning to the UK of March this year, where she handed herself in at Haverfordwest Police Station.

Kucuk was arrested and sentenced to 10 weeks in prison for breaching her bail conditions at a hearing last month; and attended a new sentencing hearing at Swansea Crown Court on May 10 via video link.

The court heard that after her passport ran out in 2020, she was only able to return home this year with the help of friends and the British Embassy.

In setencing, Judge Huw Rees told the defendant that she had had committed a ‘despicable act of theft’.

“The charity is a very worthy cause to support those who suffer a insidious disease. You breached the trust imposed on you when you worked in the shop,” remarked Judge Rees.

“You compounded matters by taking flight and absconding for a period of time of more than five years.

“There cannot be an example of more mean offending against a charity.”

She was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years; and must complete 200 hours of unpaid work; and a 25-day rehabilitation activity requirement.