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Gambler stole Christmas club money

PUBLISHED: 22:50 17 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:47 02 March 2010

A FRUIT machine addict who stole almost £6,000 from a Christmas club to feed her gambling addiction is today facing a possible jail sentence.

June Bagley, a 59-year-old Ipswich mother, wasted £5,796 of other people's money on fruit machines, a court heard.

A FRUIT machine addict who stole almost £6,000 from a Christmas club to feed her gambling addiction is today facing a possible jail sentence.

June Bagley, a 59-year-old Ipswich mother, wasted £5,796 of other people's money on fruit machines, a court heard.

Members of the IBC Social Club, in Black Horse Lane, had given Bagley their Christmas savings on a weekly basis trusting her to bank their money.

Stephen Colman, prosecuting at South East Suffolk Magistrate's Court, said Bagley, of Kingsley Close, was not found out until she was taken ill last December.

He said the club secretary went to the bank to withdraw the savings to give to the members only to find half the funds were missing.

Mr Colman said: "She was approached when she came back from hospital and she confessed to spending some of it. She started taking small amounts but was unable to pay it back."

Bagley said she had been regularly dipping into the funds between January 1, 2003 and December 8, 2003.

The court heard that Bagley was of previous good character before she became "hooked on fruit machines".

She had tried to pay some of the money back since admitting the theft, but was living on incapacity benefit and found it difficult to make amends.

The court heard that Bagley lived alone since her children had grown up and left home.

Chris Hall, secretary of IBC social club, said people who had saved in the Christmas club had been very upset.

He said: "How would anyone feel who thought that had been saving money but realised they had not been? People who lost money were very upset.

"It did damage the social club temporarily. People were upset because the incident had happened on the premises, but the club has recovered fully.

"I think the committee of the club would have to think very carefully whether it would permit another Christmas club to operate on the premises."

Magistrates released Bagley on unconditional bail until May 11 when she is to be sentenced.

Bagley was told a pre-sentence report would be prepared but "all options would remain open including custody".

AS thief June Bagley awaits her fate, scores of people will have unhappy memories of losing their Christmas club savings.

Many Suffolk people have found themselves at the receiving end of Christmas club pilferers over the years.

Former pub landlord Andrew Rolf stole more than £2,500 from his customers' Christmas club.

He persuaded his regulars to put hundreds of pounds into the club while he was landlord of The Woolpack in Debenham, but then used the money to bolster his failing business.

Rolf, who was aged 41 and living in Church Meadow, Rickinghall, admitted five charges of theft between January and December 2002 in May 2003.

A former Suffolk woman, who claimed to have been a bank manager, also stole more than £4,000 from a Christmas club fund.

She stole the money while she was responsible for collecting money for the Stowmarket Royal British Legion Christmas club between December 1998 and November 1999.

Melanie Williams, who was aged 38 and was living in Hampshire, was given a six-month jail sentence suspended for two years and was ordered to pay 4,756 compensation in January 2001

Two Christmas club fund incidents are still unresolved.

It is believed that up to £30,000 was stolen from Christmas club money at The Inkerman pub, Norwich Road in December 2002 and police would still like to talk to former landlord Andrew Ross.

Also in December 2002, Christmas club cash - feared to be more than £21,000 - went missing from an Ipswich address.

Around 40 people had paid money into the Christmas club organised by Steve Roberts, who was then aged 39 and of Orwell Gardens, Ipswich.

He had taken the money home to prepare to hand it out to friends and colleagues to buy Christmas treats.

But the money was stolen after he popped to the pub leaving a kitchen window open.

N Have you ever been the victim of a Christmas club thief? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 IAN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk>


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