A former security guard stole from his old employer to pay his cousin’s drug debt.

Matthew Andrew Harry, 32, took a key to Bargain Buys in Regent Street, Wrexham, from a former colleague’s handbag and stole £1,500 from the safe on July 23.

He told police he used the key to enter, disabled the alarm and switched off the store’s CCTV system and took the money from the safe before leaving to pay a man who had given him until 7pm that day to pay him.

Rhian Jackson, prosecuting at Wrexham Magistrates Court yesterday, said supervisor Bethany Brooks had locked up at 5.45pm and had gone to Lord Street to wait for a bus home

Harry, of Cunliffe Street in Wrexham, was working as a security guard there and invited Miss Brooks to his office for a cup of tea.

He asked Miss Brooks to get some milk from a nearby shop and, when she went to pick up her bag, told her to leave it there.

Miss Brooks had no concerns about leaving it with him, Miss Jackson said, and returned shortly afterwards.

When she went to work the next morning, two colleagues asked her what she had done with the previous day’s takings as they were not there.

Miss Brooks then found her keys had been stolen and it emerged the alarm had been deactivated at 6.40pm and reactivated 10 minutes later.

Wrexham Council CCTV cameras showed Harry leaving the bus station and going to Regent Street before disappearing off camera and making the return journey and arriving at 6.53pm.

Harry was later arrested and became upset when interviewed, and told officers a man had threatened him regarding his cousin’s debt.

He was being pursued for the money as the cousin had gone into hiding and told police he was in genuine fear that he would be harmed.

Miss Jackson added Harry told officers that he had reported the matter, but no action had been taken.

He had previously paid £1,000 and was given until 7pm on the day of the theft to pay more, and told police he felt as if he had no other option.

Harry claimed the theft was not planned, but he noticed the keys and saw the opportunity to take them, Miss Jackson said.

After the theft he handed the money to the man who had been threatening him and threw the key down a drain somewhere in Rhos.

Magistrates heard Harry had seven convictions for 23 offences, which included dishonesty, but had not been in trouble since 2005.

Probation officer Andrew Connah said Harry took full responsibility for his offence and did not seek to minimise it in any way.

If Harry had the opportunity to apologise to Miss Brooks he would do, but could not face her because he was ashamed of his behaviour.

Magistrates heard Harry had lost his job, but planned to study music and sound management at university in September.

Harry pleaded guilty at the hearing to burglary.

Ceri Lewis, defending, added Harry had fully admitted the burglary and wanted to apologise to all concerned.

Incidents had been reported to police, she added, and a statement had not been completed because an officer had been on leave.

But there was an ongoing investigation and a statement relating to seven matters including threats and assaults was set to be formalised.

The burglary was an “opportunistic matter” after Harry had again been threatened with violence.

Magistrates made a community order for 12 months with 300 hours of unpaid work.

Magistrates’ chairman Roy Dolan told Harry that was the maximum amount of hours allowed and his credit for an early guilty plea was that he was not being sent to custody. “You’re a very lucky man here today,” he added.

He must pay £1,684.62 to Bargain Buys, £85 in prosecution costs and the same amount as a surcharge.