Pub landlord could face jail for theft
A FORMER pub landlord who stole more than £2,500 from his customers' Christmas club has been told he could be sent to jail.Magistrates heard Andrew Rolf, 41, had 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.
A FORMER pub landlord who stole more than £2,500 from his customers' Christmas club has been told he could be sent to jail.
Magistrates heard Andrew Rolf, 41, had 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, of Church Meadow, Rickinghall, appeared at Sudbury Magistrates' Court yesterday and pleaded guilty to five charges of theft.
He admitted stealing £905 from one customer between January and December 2002 and taking £425.50, £285.50, £520.50 and £525.50 from four other customers between the same dates.
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Peter Gair, prosecuting, said Rolf, who ran the pub with his wife Julie, had set up the Christmas club after taking over the Woolpack on behalf of Public Inns Partnership.
He added Rolf had set up the club in January 2002 to help customers save for Christmas.
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The court heard customers had regularly paid into the club and fundraising events had also been held to boost its funds.
"He acted dishonestly by using the cash to bolster the business. He stole from the Christmas club, meaning five people have lost their money," said Mr Gair.
David Stewart, mitigating, said there had been 25 members of the club and only five people had lost their money.
He added Rolf was of good character and had only used the money to try to bolster a business that was in financial difficulty and eventually had to close down.
Rolf was asked to leave the premises by his bosses at Public Inns Partnership in January 2003 after the allegations came to light.
The pub was closed for refurbishments before Richard and Vivienne Squirell were employed as its new managers in March.
Company spokesman Joyce Jones said: "We were horrified when this first happened and now we are angry that a lovely pub like the Woolpack was used as a base for this type of appalling behaviour.
"We had now idea what was going on and we asked him to leave as soon as we found out. The new couple are upstanding members of the community and the regulars have now regained their confidence in the Woolpack."
The case was adjourned for pre-sentence reports, but Rolf was warned all options would be left open, including prison.
He was released on unconditional bail and will be sentenced at St Edmundsbury Magistrates' Court on June 5.