An events manager stole £92,000 after a corporate event at London Zoo in order to fund his gambling addiction.
Alexander Beerjeraz, 26, was a manager at a catering firm providing food at the tourist attraction when he took nearly all the takings from the event last July.
Beerjeraz was supposed to put nearly £100,000 into a company safe – but instead blew the cash on betting.
He had been working for CH&Co Catering in Devonshire Square, near Liverpool Street station.
Gregor McKinley, prosecuting, said: “His employers became suspicious because only about £10,000 had been banked from the event and they expected around £100,000.
“Two weeks after the event the defendant was absent from work and asked to see members of the management team of the cantering company.
“He confessed he had taken the money. He simply removed the cash rather than putting it in the safe.”
The court heard none of the money taken had been recovered as Beerjeraz had already spent it on his gambling addiction.
Sitting at Southwark Crown Court, Judge Joanna Korner said: “A theft from an employer is an extremely serious matter because you are abusing your position of trust which the employer has placed on you.
“Your employers trusted you greatly because they told you to do the banking, but you took the bulge of the money they had earned.
“According to what you told your employers you did so because of gambling.”
However, Judge Korner decided to suspend the prison sentence.
She added: “There will be more benefit to your ex-employers or insurance companies if this money is repaid and clearly sentencing you to immediate custody means it can’t be repaid.”
Beerjeraz was sentenced to 18 months, suspended for two years, and ordered to repay the full £92,299.71 at a rate of £500 a month.
He will also have to complete a 20-day rehabilitation order for his gambling addiction.