A Marks and Spencer employee who stole nearly €25,000 in cash from the shop floor over a three-month period will be sentenced later this year.

John Downes (56) carried out 54 thefts from cash registers in the store’s Dundrum branch between April and July 2016, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today. The total amount stolen was €24,650.

He was caught when security staff saw him putting cash into his pockets and into his sock.

Downes, with an address in Belville Court, Johnstown Road, Cabinteely, Dublin, pleaded guilty to five counts of stealing cash from Marks and Spencer, Dundrum Shopping Centre, Dublin, between April 26 and July 7, 2016. He will be sentenced on March 23.

Garda Michael Lynch told Eoin Lawlor BL, prosecuting, that Downes started working for Marks and Spencer in November 2014.

On July 7, 2016, a store security guard was viewing CCTV footage when he saw Downes, who was working on a till, put a number of cash bills in his pocket. Downes then transferred the money to his sock, the court heard.

When confronted by the security and the store operations manager, Downes initially denied stealing any cash before he eventually produced €650 in notes that he had taken from a till. He said it was his first time stealing from the store.

He was suspended on full pay pending an investigation. Gardaí investigating the case found Downes was driving a BMW car with a 152 registration plate. They also discovered €950 in cash in his bedroom which he admitted he had taken from the store.

When interviewed by gardaí, Downes made full admissions to stealing the cash over a period of time. He told them he was in a considerable amount of debt due to the breakdown of his marriage and the closure of his printing business.

He said he was severely depressed and struggling to make ends meet, Gda Lynch said. Downes also apologised for his actions and said he was “ashamed and remorseful”.

He told gardaí: “I’ve never been in trouble before” and that it was a “few moments of madness”. The court heard he has two minor road traffic convictions.

Downes had a bank draft made out to the full amount he owes to Marks and Spencer with him in court.

Defence barrister, Tom Neville BL, said his client was under severe financial difficulties at the time of his offending. His print business went under in 2015 and he also had to move out of the family home following the breakdown of his marriage.

He had a number of outstanding debts, including rent and management fees. Because he had been self-employed, he had trouble accessing social welfare support. He does not have a private pension.

Mr Neville said his client was extremely remorseful for his actions and had gone to great efforts to ensure he repaid his former employer. The court heard the BMW he was driving was leased and he no longer has it.

He is now working for a packaging sales company. His employer is aware of his current situation and loaned him the money to repay Marks and Spencer. Downes is repaying his current employer out of his salary, the court heard

Judge Martina Baxter noted Downes’ offending was “very brazen”.

She adjourned the matter to get a letter from the employer in relation to this arrangement. She also ordered a Probation Services report.