A BETTING shop manager snatched more than £7,600 from a safe and flew to South Africa the next day.

Matthew Harrison, 40, walked out of the Coral on Friar Street on August 14 and never returned to work.

However, the law finally caught up with him after he committed more offences earlier this year, while living and working in the Lake District.

Carlisle Crown Court heard how Harrison disclosed the Berkshire theft to a solicitor during discussions about the Cumbria offending.

Katy Appleton, prosecuting, said Harrison was employed at the Coral betting shop in Reading as a store manager.

On August 14 he was working with another person. "The colleague left at 10pm, leaving the defendant alone, and continuing to count money from the store," said Miss Appleton.

An entry code was used to unlock a safe, which remained open.

She added: "There was also CCTV which showed the defendant spending an unusually long period of time around the safe area.

"On several occasions holding large bundles of cash in his hands."

Harrison left at around 10.30pm and failed to show for work the following day.

"A member of staff opened the till and discovered £7,610 was missing," continued Miss Appleton.

"The defendant had not returned to work. Enquiries established he had made an unplanned flit to South Africa on August 15, and continued to live there."

He bought a ticket to go and see his son, and used the remaining stolen cash as he remained abroad before heading back to the UK in March, 2015.

Harrison then formed a two-and-a-half year relationship with Joanne Minshaw, which broke down earlier this year.

And on May 17, having learned of text messages between her and another man, he stormed into the Lakes Bar and Bistro in Keswick armed with a knife while drunk.

He went behind the bar, tried to punch her and then lashed out at another employee who intervened.

It was only after he left that Miss Minshaw saw a foot-long knife with a serrated blade on the floor - and found a 12cm stomach scratch beneath damaged clothing.

"I am lucky to be alive," she later told police. "What he did has mentally scarred me."

"I strongly believe he tried to kill me that day."

Harrison admitted actual bodily harm assault, common assault, affray and possession of a knife in public.

He was also sentenced for the Reading crime after admitting to theft.

Recorder Julie Clemitson suspended a 14-month jail term for two years, concluding there was a reasonable prospect of rehabilitation having heard mitigation and read supportive references.

Recorder Clemitson heard Harrison, now of The Old Orchard, Farnham, Surrey, was 'remorseful' and seeking to address mental health issues.

He must complete a building better relationships course, and rehabilitation, and was also banned from contacting Miss Minshaw for five years.