A MAN who “gave into temptation” and stole school tuck shop money whilst doing community service has escaped a jail sentence.

Gary Vango, 31, was carrying out unpaid painting and decorating work at Shoebury High School as punishment for attacking a police officer.

CCTV cameras from a Saturday during last July showed the father of two entering the school’s finance office, which had been left unlocked by the cleaner.

Vango, of Richmond Avenue, Shoebury, then broke into a drawer and stole £50 - which had been raised through the school tuck shop and a second-hand uniform sale.

When staff returned to Shoebury High School on Monday they noticed the drawer was damaged and a painter’s pole had been left in the office.
Vango has a string of previous convictions for burglary, shoplifting and false representation offences.

Richard Potts, mitigating, said the former drug addict was now in full-time employment and carrying out voluntary community work.

He added: “It was an impulsive crime.

“It was one in which he saw an opportunity.

“The opportunity arose at a time of crisis in his family.

“Having recently secured work and stopped his benefit claim, he had been let off and was in severe financial difficulty. The temptation proved too much for him.”

Vango pleaded guilty to burglary at an earlier hearing.

Yesterday Judge Jonathan Black handed him an eight month prison sentence, but suspended it for 18 months.

Addressing Vango at Basildon Crown Court, he said: “The breach of trust that you exhibited is a serious one. Firstly, you were on community pay-back at the time and you were trusted by the people who placed you in the school to carry out that work and not commit further offences. Without schools and other organisations which are willing to provide placements for offenders there would be no unpaid work and that would mean more offenders in prison. Your actions might make others re-think their involvement in unpaid work in the future and I have no doubt organisations reading about this case will take that view.”

Vango must also pay £300 costs.