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Astley mother spared jailed after stealing £20,000 from junior football club
3:24pm Tuesday 17th September 2013 in News
AN ASTLEY mother of two has been spared a jail term after stealing more than £20,000 from a junior football club.
Cheryl Lee, of Green Avenue, Astley, was given a 16-month sentence which was suspended for two years after she pleaded guilty to fraud at Warrington Crown Court on Monday.
The court heard how the 37-year-old took advantage of her volunteer role as the treasurer of the Lymm Piranhas Junior Football Club, which coaches 15 teams and more than 200 players in Warrington.
Lee, who has no previous convictions, was appointed as treasurer of the club in September 2007 and was put in charge of the club’s cheque book and subs money.
Over a three year period, Lee paid in £21,969.55 into her own personal account and her now ex-husband’s account by forging the signatures of other club officials.
A total of 29 cheques were found to have been forged by Lee with a further £1,200 in cash paid into the accounts.
It was only in October 2010 that the club became suspicious when an audit was carried out by the newly appointed club assistant.
Prosecuting, Philip Clemo said: “When the audit took place it was evident that the books did not balance.
“A meeting was called on May 17, 2011, between club official and she said that ‘if any money was missing then she would give it back’”.
Lee later admitted the offence and has since voluntarily paid back £6,045 to the club.
Defending, John Banasko claims Lee intends to pay back every penny.
The court heard how Lee took the money after her debt problem spiralled out of control and has since been declared bankrupt.
Judge Nicholas Woodward said it was clear that Lee was ‘genuinely remorseful’ and has acted ‘out of character’.
Judge Woodward said: “You have done everything you can to try and put things right and rectify these mistakes.
“There will be people who are disgusted by what you did. However, you did not take the position to get access to the money.”
Barclays Bank, which currently holds the account for the club, has since paid back £15,000 to the Lymm Piranhas and Lee intends to pay the bank back in full.
A spokesman for the football club said: “Like most community organisations the running of the club is put in the hands of trusted volunteers but our ability to do this has been put under considerable strain by this episode.
“We are pleased that the amounts owing to us have, in the main, been repaid and that justice has now been served.
“We would urge all community clubs to be vigilant in their recruitment policies.”
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