Fareham treasurer of youth football club stole £15,000 in fraud

Harley Smith

‘He took advantage of a vulnerable young woman to take control’

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THE former treasurer of a children’s football club has been warned he faces jail for stealing thousands of pounds to help pay for his son’s school fees.

Graham Briggs admitted three counts of fraud by abuse of his position by fraudulently cashing cheques from Ranvilles Rangers Youth Football Club.

The first offence dates to July 2007 when Briggs, of Laburnum Road, Fareham, cashed one of the club’s cheques for £200.

The following December the 56-year-old cashed two more cheques worth £2,750 and £350.

And at a hearing at Fareham Magistrates’ Court, Briggs also asked for a further 37 similar counts relating to cheques for amounts ranging from £125 to £700 to be taken into account. The total amount he has admitted to obtaining through fraud between July 2006 and December 2010 comes to about £15,000.

Prosecutor Alicia Keen said: ‘Overall there are 40 cheques by him.

‘In some cases he has manufactured a signature of another member of the board.

‘Briggs had been helping out for a number of years as a referee and the treasurer, but always on a voluntary basis and never taking expenses.

‘Perhaps he felt that the money was owed to him, but eventually he realised he had overstepped the mark.

‘We know that some of the money was used to pay for school fees.’

District Judge Anthony Callaway agreed that the total sum put the potential judgment beyond his court’s sentencing powers and ordered the case to be committed to Portsmouth Crown Court.

He said: ‘Jail is obviously a possibility for fraud of this scale.’

Caroline Palacio, defending, told the court that Briggs has a number of serious health problems, including chronic liver disease. He had also missed an earlier court date due to breaking a foot, which briefly led to a warrant being issued for his arrest when he failed to show for the hearing.

He attended court on this occasion in a wheelchair.

Mrs Palacio asked for full background reports to be compiled by the probation service for the sentencing.

Members of the club, which plays at Neville Lovett Community School in Fareham, declined to comment.

Briggs is due to be sentenced in Portsmouth on May 11.