Dishonest Ipswich Town bar manager who stole £1,600 from club spared prison

Portman Road

Portman Road

Justice has finally caught up with a fugitive former Ipswich Town bar manager who stole £1,600 from the club during a game.

David James, of Luther Road, Ipswich, had denied theft but was convicted in his absence after his South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court trial went ahead last month without him.

A warrant was then issued for his arrest.

The 29-year-old was found to be working at a fairground in Croydon on Monday.

He was arrested and brought back before Ipswich magistrates on Tuesday for sentencing.

The court heard James had been wanted by police for more than a month.

James, who had eight previous dishonesty convictions, admitted failing to surrender to custody.

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He was sentenced to 20 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. He must also pay compensation of £1,635 to ITFC and £620 in court costs.

James’ solicitor Mr Holt had told the court: “On the day of the trial he was in Ipswich general hospital having tried to harm himself.

“He would say he had a reasonable excuse for not being here on the trial date of June 15.”

However, it was conceded James clearly had an obligation subsequently to present himself to the court, but failed to do so.

Mr Holt said: “He was contacted by a friend who said there was work available and Mr James took the opportunity to leave immediately after, and has been working ever since for a company that fixes, maintains and installs fairground equipment.”

Magistrates heard James is currently based in Croydon and lives in the borough’s Ashburton Park. He will be at his present place of work for another three or four weeks.

Mr Holt said: “Thereafter, who knows?”

During James trial it was said he had waited until 16 hours after the theft to claim he had been robbed at knifepoint by five men.

The offence took place on Tuesday, February 23, during Ipswich’s 0-1 defeat by Hull at Portman Road.

James stole £1,635. The money was never recovered.

At around 9.30pm the bar manager, who worked at the club for two years, collected the notes from various bars in the Cobbold Stand.

He should have taken the money to his manager Timothy Claydon’s office.

However, the bar stand manager left the ground with the money, a set of keys, and a Motorola walkie-talkie worth up to £300, all belonging to Ipswich Town.

The court heard during James’s police interview he said two men had come out of the toilets and three more had also approached before robbing him.

One pulled out a flick knife from his jeans’ pocket. Another punched James to the back of the head, although there was no visible injury.

In addition to his suspended sentence and the order to pay compensation and costs, James must also pay £80 to the victims’ fund.