South Leeds Conservative club bar manager stole £55,000 of takings

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A Conservative club bar manager stole more than £55,000 of takings which he gave away to members of his family, a court heard.

Ben Speight, 26, carried out the deception over a 12 month period before an accountant became suspicious.

Leeds Crown Court heard Speight had been a trusted member of staff at South Leeds Conservative Club, Beeston, after he started working there as a 16-year-old glass collector.

Robert Galley, prosecuting, said Speight carried out the deception by ordering change which he then converted into notes.

Mr Galley said Speight kept the cash for himself instead of putting it into the till.

Speight stole cash which he was supposed to take to the bank.

Speight’s offending came to light in March this year after an accountant asked him to open the club’s safe.

He made an excuse about not having the key and made arrangements to open it on another occasion.

Speight then turned up at the club with his grandmother and admitted what he had done.

Speight, of Cross Flatts Grove, Beeston, pleaded guilty to theft.

Genan Hashim, mitigating, said Speight committed the offences while he was grief-stricken after the death of his mother.

She said Speight gave sums to relatives in order to pay off debts and did not make any benefit of his own from the offending.

Miss Hashim said: “He accepts that he did this alone and none of his family were aware of what was taking place.

“He was unable to deal with his own grief and was trying desperately to hold things together. He is someone who is desperately ashamed.”

Speight was given a ten month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work.

Recorder Michael Wheeler told Speight: “It would appear that you were renown for your good work ethic but the members of the club did not know you were pillaging the till.”

He added: “I see no point in passing a sentence of immediate custody when you can continue to put something back into the community.”

Speight was also ordered to repay the sum of £55,823 to the club, but the court heard it was like to be “many years” before it was repaid in full.

Michael Tennant.

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