A trusted hotel manager from Longtown stole almost £107,000 from his employer over seven years to feed his 'crippling' addiction to gambling.

Carlisle Crown Court heard today how 58-year-old Stewart McIntosh - whose £18,000 a year job as manager at the Graham Arms Hotel in Longtown came with a flat - was regarded as both a trusted employee and a friend by the hotel's owners.

Yet he carried out the thefts to pay for a gambling addiction which began 15 years ago.

His defence lawyer David Wales told the court that McIntosh, of English Street, Longtown, saw his addiction spiral out of control with the advent of online gambling, which he did through his mobile phone.

"He was unable to control his behaviour," said Mr Wales.

Police said that the defendant had shown no remorse during the investigation, but Mr Wales insisted in court that McIntosh's primary objective for today's sentencing hearing was to express his "extreme remorse" for his actions and to apologise to his victims.

The defendant had sought help from Gamblers Anonymous and had now beaten his addiction, said Mr Wales.

The defendant admitted stealing £100, 588, false accounting, and second theft of £6,550.

As he jailed McIntosh for 32 months, Recorder Timothy Hannam QC told the defendant: "At 58 years of age, you are plainly a manipulative and deceitful man."

He judge noted that the defendant was even stealing from his employer when they were coping with a family illness and bereavement. "You didn't volunteer the fact that you committed this offence; you were caught," added the judge.

Recorder Hannam noted that the theft meant that the family who owned the hotel had to been unable to give deserved pay rises to the hotel's 15 staff, whose jobs were put at risk

The defendant was already employed as the manager when the current owners took over. They decided to keep him on but he regularly took cash, making more than 850 transactions which were part of his deception. When challenged, he came up with excuses.

The true extent of his deceit emerged only after his employer employed a tax consultant to go through hotel's books back to 2011, at a cost of £4,000.

It was the defendant's first criminal conviction.

After the hearing today, Detective Constable Andrew Metcalf said: "This is a positive result for the owners of the premises. Mr McIntosh showed no remorse for his actions during the investigation.

"This result today provides the owners an opportunity to move forward with their lives, both personally and professionally. I am happy that Mr McIntosh has been held to account for his actions."