Ipswich: Treasurer’s daughter pocketed �24k from Manor Ballroom social club – then tried to blame her dad

IPSWICH: The current treasurer of a popular social club today blasted the ‘despicable’ actions of a woman who stole �24,000 and then blamed her 76-year-old father.

Michelle Smyth, 24, Neath Drive, Ipswich, has been jailed for 14 months after stealing money from the Manor Ballroom Social Club.

Her father, Anthony Smyth, was the club’s treasurer at the time and she had stolen the money after offering to bank it for him, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

She then blamed her father when the theft was discovered.

Des Hindle, secretary and treasurer of the Manor Ballroom, said the theft had caused financial problems for the club, but that it had now recovered.

He said: “To be honest I think it was a despicable thing to do.

“I’m relieved that it has all been dealt with, but I’m still angry that she’s stolen all this money, money the club could really do with.”

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Referring to Mr Smyth he added: “We decided that it was best he did not come in because he was under suspicion so we don’t see anything of him. I don’t think he’ll be coming back to be honest.”

Jailing Michelle Smyth at Ipswich Crown Court on Thursday, Judge Rupert Overbury described the theft as “persistent, deliberate and re-meditated”.

Smyth admitted theft of the money between November 2008 and January 2009.

Judge Overbury said the theft of the money had caused “huge” problems for the social club which had struggled to stay in business. “Fortunately it has managed to do so but the theft of the money caused sleepless nights to those responsible for its operation.”

Charles Myatt, prosecuting, offered no evidence against Anthony Smyth, of Gippeswyk Road, Ipswich on the theft charge and a not guilty verdict was entered on the court record.

Mr Myatt said Anthony Smyth had been appointed treasurer of the club in November 2008 and was responsible for banking money.

Although he produced a spreadsheet to the club’s committee in December showing it had �16,000, the club subsequently discovered its account was �9,000 overdrawn.

Investigations revealed �21,000 cash and three cheques totalling �3,000 should have been paid into the club’s account but hadn’t gone in.

Examination of Michelle Smyth’s bank accounts showed considerable sums of money going through them and when questioned by police she claimed she had been looking after money for a friend.

Jane Oldfield for Smyth said her client had no previous convictions and although her father had been under the shadow of suspicion his daughter’s guilty plea had spared him the stress of a trial.

Miss Oldfield said Smyth had used the money to “get by” and pay off her debts and had not spent it on a lavish lifestyle. She claimed that Smyth’s partner at the time had put pressure on her to commit the offences.