THIS is the moment a trusted young barmaid helped herself to a bundle of £20 notes before stuffing them into her bag.

Abby Louise Brindle stole £3,000 from Tricky’s in Thwaites Road, Accrington, Blackburn magistrates heard.

Her former employer, Tricky’s owner Richard Hilliard, said he was ‘stunned’ to learn of her betrayal.

The 21-year-old, of Park Street, Accrington, used the money to clear bank cards and loans, and to buy cannabis and expensive treats for herself, the court was told.

She pleaded guilty to stealing the money during her time behind the bar, and was made subject to a community supervision for 12 months, and ordered to pay £500 compensation.

Mr Hilliard, speaking after the case, said: “She was like part of the family. We have known her for years and we were the best of friends.

“I gave her a job and I trusted her completely. I let her run the pub, and if she was stuck for money I would lend it to her.”

In March, Mr Hilliard noticed money was missing from a change drawer and the till, and viewed footage from a CCTV camera disguised as a smoke alarm.

He said: “Within 12 minutes of her shift starting, she went to the cash drawer, took the money out, and put it in her bag. We then watched the rest of her shift, and she was just taking money out of the drawer.

“We were stunned.”

Brindle was called to Mr Hilliard’s home, where she was confronted.

The 73-year-old said: “I asked her why she did it. She was crying and saying she didn’t know why. She had been working here for two years.

“Everybody liked her. She is such a bonny girl and when she smiles, she lights the room up. But the trust is gone now for everybody.”

Janet Syme, defending, said Brindle was ‘acutely remorseful’ to be appearing in court for the first time.

She said Brindle was taking a year out from studying at Edge Hill College because of a spinal injury.

“She has ambitions to become a nurse and fears this conviction may be an obstacle to that,” she said.

“People who have known her for a long time were shocked to hear she had been involved in this offence.

She has never been in trouble before and it is completely out of character for her.”

Mr Hilliard said he was disappointed she was not being forced to pay the whole amount back.

He said: “I can’t believe she only has to pay £500 back. She is a complete thief.

“How can she become a nurse when she is taking money?

“I’m gutted about what the court has done. Nobody in the pub can believe it. It’s now open season to steal money, because you won’t have to pay it all back.”