December 9 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
A man who stole more than £7,000 from fund-raising events while chairman of an amateur dramatic group has avoided prison.
Robert Waple, 40, of St Michael’s Close, Thetford, was given a suspended prison sentence at Norwich Crown Court yesterday after he stole £7,394 from the Thetford Players between January 1, 2010, and March 23 this year.
He pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud by abuse of position at a hearing at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court on July 2.
Waple took the money from a series of fund-raising and charity events held by the group, of which he was a founder member.
That included £1,100 intended for the East Anglian Children’s Hospice (EACH) after the group held a Monopoly Race event.
Hugh Vass, in mitigation, said Waple had an otherwise “unblemished” record and was a full-time carer for his wife, who suffers from arthritis and diabetes, and also looks after his son.
He said: “A combination of all these factors and financial worries is what got him into this situation. It was out of desperation.
“It’s clearly an unpleasant offence.”
The court heard that Mr Waple had paid back to the group after borrowing it from his parents.
Sentencing, Mr Recorder Ian Glen QC said: “This is a sad case and you are in difficult circumstances.”
He gave Waple a nine month prison sentence suspended for two years and a requirement to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.
Jo Cooper, current chairman of Thetford Players, said the group was glad the case was over.
“We feel the sentence was appropriate and it acknowledges the level of the abuse of trust that took place.
“We’re also grateful to Mr Waple’s parents for lending him the money to pay us back.
“It’s been a difficult time for all concerned and we are glad we can move on,” she said.
Ms Cooper added that Waple was yet to show remorse for his actions and had not apologised to the group.
The group has since raised £650 for EACH to make up for some of the lost money.