THE manager of a charity shop stole more than £7,000 that was destined to care for abandoned animals, a court heard.

Susan McVeigh, 52, is accused of stealing the cash from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals while she was in charge of the Ringwood shop.

Prosecutor Nicholas Rowland, explained how her alleged deception was uncovered when she took two weeks holiday from the branch, and her deputy took over.

He said that after concerns were raised, a spot check by shop bosses was carried out and when McVeigh opened her locker more than £2,500 “fell out” of it.

A further investigation revealed that just over £4,500 had “disappeared into thin air” when a reconciliation of takings was carried out.

Mr Rowland explained that suspicions were first raised in September last year when McVeigh, who had worked at the shop since August 2010, took two weeks off.

Her deputy Lynda Haskell took charge and in the handover asked what she was to do with the takings. Giving evidence to Southampton Crown Court Ms Haskell said she was told by McVeigh not to worry about banking the money but just to leave it in the safe.

However, after the first week it became clear the safe was too small and she contacted McVeigh to ask to bank it, but again McVeigh said no and that she would sort it out.

However, when she returned to work on the Monday of the second week she found that most of the money had been removed from the safe. A note from McVeigh said she had “moved” the money and would bank it the next day.

Ms Haskell also explained howon the last day that she was in charge she was cashing up when McVeigh, who was still on leave, came into the shop.

Ms Haskell said: “She (McVeigh) said to me ‘You don’t need to do that, I will sort it out, so I suggest you go home’.”

She was so concerned that she reported it to the shops’ retail manager who later visited the shop unannounced and found cash that had not been banked for several days in the safe.

Mr Rowland added: “The defendant opened her personal locker and money fell out of there.”

McVeigh, of Bishop Court, Ringwood, denies one charge of theft totalling £7,288.32 between September 4 and November 15, 2011.