The Angling Club Where Something Fishy was Going On
Every group or club requires a treasurer. They are the guys who handle the cash and that means that's important that they can be trusted. But how do you know when your trust has been misplaced? Any underhand dealings often only surface when it is too late and the money is already gone.
Sometimes the last person you would expect of dishonesty turns out to be the guilty party because people are capable of anything when they are desperate.
Angling clubs certainly aren't immune from trouble as demonstrated recently by the Plymouth and District Course Angling Club. Their Treasurer narrowly avoided going to prison after relieving the club purse of almost £19,000!
Dishonest REF Steward
The 47-year-old former RAF steward stole the money from the angling club over a period of two years to pay off a loan shark and credit card bills. He lied to club members to conceal his theft but then the club's cheques started to bounce and his deception was revealed.
£18,833 was stolen before his activities were discovered. He worked for the club on a voluntary basis and received free membership in return. His principle role was to bank the membership fees received but only £4,000 of the £23,000 paid found its way into the club's account. He was the only member who received the bank statements and was able to falsify the balance statements which were presented at club meetings to cover his tracks. He was only found out when the club coach wrote a cheque and it bounced.
The would-be treasurer confessed what he had done to club officials when the cheques began to bounce. The police were called and the club had to take out a loan to cover the losses incurred.
A plea of guilty was entered at Plymouth Crown Court. Judge Ian Lawrie spoke of a "monstrous betrayal of trust". But he explained that he could suspend any prison sentence because of the confession and that the culprit had shown genuine remorse. The guilty party stated that he had intended to pay the money back but that his plan had gone wrong.
Previously of Good Character
References submitted to the court suggested that the theft was an aberration and that the defendant had previously been of good character. Judge Lawrie deliberated for almost two hours before handing down the sentence. The punishment given was a 20-month prison sentence suspended for two years, 100 hours' unpaid work and one-to-one probation supervision. He was also ordered to pay £340 costs and a £100 victim surcharge.
Judge Lawrie did not make any compensation order. However, he did say that he was relying on the defendant's "good conscience" to fulfil his promise to pay back the money when he was able to.