When members of the Scarborough Indoor Bowling Club paid into a holiday fund little did they realise their trusted colleague was using the cash to settle his debts.
When Albert Mouser, who was a receptionist at the bowls centre in Peasholm Road, realised he would be unable to pay back the stolen cash he turned to gambling in an attempt to make up the shortfall.
On Friday Mouser, 58, of Lady Edith Park’s, Newby, appeared before York Crown Court for sentencing on a previously admitted charge of committing fraud by abuse of position, the court hearing he spent and gambled away a total of £10,953.
Alan Mitcheson, prosecuting, told how 50 members of the club handed over cash for a joint holiday in Norfolk - an annual event which Mouser had organised for many years.
More than £12,000 was paid in by club members, with Mouser paying out a deposit of £1,840 but then pocketing the rest.
The court heard that matters came to light when a fellow club member noticed that Mouser appeared troubled and asked what was wrong, the defendant immediately admitting what he had done.
The court was told that the members’ holiday at Easter this year was safe because of an insurance policy, but that, because of his poor financial position, it was felt that Mouser could only pay over a nominal confiscation order of £1 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Nicholas De la Pour, mitigating, said matters had come to light before the fraud was discovered by others - Mouser, who had lost his job with little prospect of getting back into employment, having expressed genuine and obvious remorse. Since the offence came to light, added Mr De la Pour, Mouser has joined Gamblers Anonymous, entered into an IVA to deal with his debts and sought help for depression. He had also sold his home, at a loss, in order to move to Leeds to be nearer the support of his two daughters, he said. Mouser, who has no previous convictions, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and placed under a six-month nightly curfew.