Club volunteer stole cash

A FOOTBALL club volunteer who stole money set aside to buy youngsters a new clubhouse to help with family debts today faces a hefty bill to pay it back.

A FOOTBALL club volunteer who stole money set aside to buy youngsters a new clubhouse to help with family debts today faces a hefty bill to pay it back.

Carol Curling, a former treasurer at Wickham Market Youth Football Club, has been told she must pay more than £3,500 compensation to the club she worked with for approximately nine years.

It is believed Curling stole between £3,000 and £5,000 during an 18-month period - although the account books were in such a poor order, the club and courts are unsure of the extent of the damage.

Curling, 40, pleaded guilty to theft and was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday.

Judge Peter Thompson, sentencing, said: "You are going to be very busy for the next few years, saving every penny you can to ensure you can pay it back."

The court heard how she fiddled the books between July 2003 and September last year to help with money troubles at home.

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Curling, of Simons Cross, Wickham Market, had up to £3,000 of debts and her husband has only recently got a job after being out of work since 1989. The pair have three dependent children.

At an annual meeting last year Curling told the club it had £17,000 in the bank. It was not until someone took over the role later in the year the club realised how badly balanced the accounts were. An audit in 2002 had showed everything to be in order.

The court heard how a member of the football club, for boys aged between six and 16, said: "details were in such disarray it was unclear how much money there ever was, and how much was unlawfully taken out."

Andrew Shaw, mitigating, said Curling, who works part time in a restaurant, did not know how much she stole.

He said it was small amounts for day-to-day items, not a life of luxury.

He also said she had already returned £560 to the club and had approached loan companies to try and pay back the rest.

He said: "The family believed to be in up to £3,000 in debt which is a measure of the lack of grasp she has on her finances.

"This is an unfortunate case where she always intended initially to pay the money back."

Judge Thompson, said: "You were an incompetent treasurer and didn't manage money properly or even know how much you were stealing.

"You could not resist the temptation to dip into the funds you held.

"The seriousness is you were trusted to look after the money, collected to pay for a clubhouse, and you have put back the club's prospects of being able to do that for a considerable amount of time."

He ordered Curling to do 80 hours of unpaid work in the community and undergo a 12-month course teaching her how to manage money.

She must pay back £3,500 at the rate of £100 a month on top of the cash she has already returned.

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