Fareham treasurer of youth football club avoids jail over his poor health

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THE former treasurer of a children’s football club, from which he stole more than £15,000, has been spared jail because of his poor health.

Recorder Anne Arnold told Graham Briggs that she would be ‘merciful’ in not sending the 56-year-old to jail for admitting two counts of fraud by abuse of position.

Briggs also asked for another 38 similar counts to be taken into consideration from July 2006 to December 2010 when he was treasurer of Fareham-based Ranvilles Rangers Youth Football Club.

Briggs had written 40 cheques, ranging from £125 to £2,750 either to himself or to those he owed money, including to pay for school fees for his son.

During his sentencing at Portsmouth Court, the court heard how Briggs has chronic liver disease which has shortened his life expectancy.

Tim Sparkes, defending, said: ‘He may well die before the debt is discharged and any compensation order by the court could be paid.

‘There’s extreme ill health here which has led to a breakdown in his finances.’

Recorder Arnold said: ‘You have committed theft and fraud against a youth football team where you were in a position of trust. It caters to children from five to 18 years old, and you have deprived them of a sum approaching £15,000.

‘A lot of that I am told was to pay for school fees – a luxury you couldn’t otherwise afford, but because of that luxury being afforded to your child, others have gone short in terms of what might have been offered by the club.’

She said her normal starting point for these offences would be 27 months jail, but she had to take his health into consideration and added: ‘I’m going to take the merciful course in your case and impose a lesser sentence.’

He was given a 12 month jail sentence, suspended for two years, with a six month curfew order.

Briggs was ordered to repay the money at a rate of at least £50 a week, but it must all be paid in two years.

The court also heard how Briggs had committed a number of similar offences in 1985, ‘86, ‘88, ‘89, and ‘91 for which he did serve jail time.