SUFFOLK Amateur Boxing Association’s former treasurer has been spared jail after stealing £2,530 from its schools’ account.

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Keith Cocker, of Croft Street, Ipswich, stole a total of £2,530 over a eight-month period while he was in charge of the association’s finances.

The 65-year-old was given at 10-month jail sentence suspended for 12 months by Ipswich magistrates.

Cocker was also ordered to repay £2,000 in compensation.

He had previously admitted 11 charges of fraud, and two of forging his chairman’s signature on cheques.

Cocker claimed he felt compelled to commit the offences after being harassed into doing so by a former lodger, who had assaulted and stolen from him.

The frauds took place between June 2011 and February 2012.

Cocker had been the treasurer of the voluntary association for 20 years, when the offences were reported to police by the organisation’s chairman in July last year.

Cocker was the sole signatory on cheques until late 2009, when the system was changed to require the dual signatures of the association’s treasurer and chairman.

Seven of the fraudulent cheques were made out to a man named Bradley Thorpe, three to Cocker himself, and one to STB Ltd.

Magistrates heard that during a police interview Cocker said Mr Thorpe had been living with him on and off.

Cocker said Mr Thorpe had harassed him and would just turn up, hand the association’s cheque book to him, and make him write the cheques.

The three Cocker wrote for himself went into his Santander account to pay for rent.

Suffolk ABA has now been reimbursed with the £2,530 by Lloyds TSB, which is bearing the loss.

At the previous hearing when Cocker pleaded guilty, his solicitor Michael Stephenson, told the court: “Mr Cocker seems to have got himself into a position where he was frightened of, and in fact under the power of, a young man who was his lodger.

“The man concerned committed offences of assault against him.

“On January 17, 2012 Mr Thorpe pleaded guilty to two offences of assault, and offences of burglary and theft. These were offences of which Mr Cocker was the victim.”

The court was told Thorpe had received a suspended sentence.

However, Mr Stephenson added: “Subsequently that suspended sentenced has been activated. This is not quite a case of duress. It doesn’t quite come into that category.

“There is no doubt that for a substantial period of time Mr Cocker was under the power of this man.”

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