AN ASSISTANT manager who stole £1,000 from her store's safe to pay off a drugs debt has escaped a prison sentence.

Kiera Bartram, 33, was left in charge of the Co-op store in Rosyth for a weekend and took the cash which she had been counting.

She first blamed a team leader for making a mistake and also said it could have been an issue with banking at the post office before coming clean and admitting that she had taken the money.

Appearing for sentencing at Dunfermline Sheriff Court, Bartram, of Parkneuk Road, Dunfermline, pleaded guilty to a charge that on May 19 at the Co-op in Rosyth, she embezzled £1,000.

Depute fiscal Ms Rennie said that Bartram had worked in the shop for five years and an internal loss prevention manager was brought in after the money had gone missing.

"When the loss prevention manager and the store manager spoke with the accused on Monday, June 5, she admitted she had taken £1,000 in £20 notes," she told the court. "Her explanation was she was dependent on drugs and was in debt.

"The accused was dismissed from her employment and the matter was reported to the police. The £1,000 was unrecovered."

Defence solicitor Barbara Collie said her client, a first offender, had accrued a debt to a drug dealer and was being threatened.

"She was counting money in the safe and took a chance," she said. "She acted impulsively and took the money. She is now distressed.

"She regrets her behaviour. Since the offence, she has recognised she needs help with her addiction."

Sheriff Alastair Thornton told Bartram that the theft had been a "very clear breach of trust" on her part.

"You were given responsibility within the company and you betrayed the faith which people had placed in you by putting you in that role," he said. "It is only because you appear as a first offender that I am not going to impose a custodial sentence on you today."

Bartram was placed on a community payback order requiring her to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work within six months.