Ex-treasurer of Waveney Gymnastics Club walks free from court – despite gambling a ‘huge’ amount of club funds

Colin Price

Colin Price - Credit: Archant

The former treasurer of a Waveney Gymnastics Club who squandered £100,000 of the club's money on gambling has walked free from court after a judge decided not to send him straight to prison.

Sentencing Colin Price to an 18 month prison sentence suspended for two years Recorder John Foy said he had escaped an immediate prison sentence by 'the skin of his teeth.'

Recorder Foy told Price, who was a founding member of Waveney Gymnastics Club and had won awards for his contribution to the club, he had committed a serious breach of trust involving between £99,000 to £106,000.

He said that as a result of Price's dishonesty members' club fees had been increased and projects to replace hearing and lighting had been postponed.

During the sentencing hearing the judge was told that Price was in the process of selling his home to enable him to repay the club in full.

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A Proceeds of Crime hearing will take place in the next few months.

Price, 59, of Heather Gardens, Belton, Great Yarmouth admitted fraud by abuse of position between 2011 and 2015.

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Russell Butcher, prosecuting, said Price had helped set up Waveney Gymnastics Club, which was a registered charity, in 1976.

At the time of the fraud he was a director and treasurer of the club and was responsible for the club's finances.

In August last year concerns were raised by an independent accountant about the club's finances and Price claimed he had invested £57,000 of the club's money but refused to give any details.

Price had subsequently admitted spending club funds on internet gambling and was suspended from the club.

Price admitted taking £106,000 but Mr Butcher said he was only charged with fraud in relation to £99,000.

Peter Spary for Price described the case as 'sad and tragic.'

He said the offence had been committed out of desperation after his client's ill health resulted in unemployment, debts and depression.

'To overcome his shrinking bank balance he foolishly decided to gamble and to dip his hand in the club's cookie jar in an attempt to gamble his way out of debt,' said Mr Spary.

He said this had resulted in a gambling addiction during which Price had gambled away a 'huge' amount of the club's funds.

He said for more than 20 years Price had dedicated 20 hours a week to the club and was involved in a successful lottery bid which resulted in an Olympic standard centre with state of the art facilities being completed in 2002.

Price had subsequently won a number of awards including jointly winning the most valuable contribution to sport award with club director John Pawsey at the Waveney Sports Awards in 2008.

In 2010/2011, Price was honoured with the most valuable contribution to sport award at the Active Waveney Sports Awards for his 'immeasurable importance to the club, its directors, its staff and all those that attend.'

At the East Region Gymnastics Association's annual presentation awards evening in 2011, Price was again honoured as he won the volunteer award for his 'dedication, time and guidance' at the club over more than 20 years.

Mr Spary said that when Price admitted what he had done the news was met with 'complete shock' by everyone who had trusted him.

Mr Spary described Price, who walks with a frame, as a 'completely broken man'.

He said people who had provided character references said the offence was out of character and described Price as an 'upstanding member of the community.'

Another character witness described Price as 'a good man who made a terrible mistake.'

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