Grandmother jailed for stealing £2,000 from Oving Youth Club

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A treasurer who stole more than £2,000 from a youth club where she worked has been jailed for 24 weeks.

Grandmother Debra Mann, 54, of Highfield Lane, Oving, took the money from Oving Youth Club, where she was the treasurer, over a period of five months, a court heard.

She appeared at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on Monday, September 25, where she was sentenced for fraud by abuse of position, having previously pleaded guilty to the offence on August 24.

Sentencing her, Judge Christopher James said: “This was fraud which had an impact on a youth club.

“In particular, this youth club has been designed to provide a community service for young people to benefit them and to keep them off the street.

“Having gained trust you proceeded to take money from them and you took the money for your own benefit.

“It is clear only a custodial sentence can be given and due to numerous offences in the past of false representation and dishonesty, I cannot issue a suspended sentence.”

The court heard Mann had stolen £2,057.60 from the club between August, 2015, and January, 2016, in six transactions.

She was seen as an ‘ideal candidate’ for the role due to her past work experience when she applied in June, 2015, the court heard.

Her husband, Ian, also became chairman of the club, the court was told.

Mann was given access to the club’s finances, but when payments were not being made to Jubilee Hall in the High Street, where the club operates from, people became suspicious.

Prosecutor Gaynor Byng said: “Elizabeth Smith, a parish councillor and trustee of the club, set up a bank account for Mrs Mann to use.

“Direct debits were set up so payments to the club could be paid regularly and in advance.

“Mrs Mann started making excuses about the payments and meetings were arranged with her to find out what was going on with the money.

“At an Oving Parish Council meeting in December 2015, councillor Smith was told payments had not been made and she was furious and believed the money had been taken by Mrs Mann.

“Mrs Mann denied everything and said the money had been paid to the club by a bank transfer.”

Mann and her husband were invited to a meeting with the youth club to discuss the financial issues, the court was told.

At the meeting, Mr Mann handed over resignation letters from them both, and £1,040 cash in an envelope.

Mark Kessler, defending, said Mann was ‘clearly very sorry’ and the offence was motivated by a ‘shortage of money’.

He said: “Someone does something very foolish and dishonest but other people are affected.

“Her husband is off sick after suffering injuries to his back.

“They have a daughter who clearly suffers with mental health issues, so they look after their grandson and take him to and from school.

“A prison sentence would be a real tragedy, particularly for a lady in her 50s.”

Judge James ignored this plea, sentencing Mann to a 24-week jail term.

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