Gambling addict escapes jail term after stealing £30k from Luton charity

Stockwood Park Golf Club

Stockwood Park Golf Club

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A gambling addict who stole £30,000 from a Luton charity to feed his vice has been handed a suspended sentence.

Over a period of more than nine years Matthew Green, 38, of Feronia Mead, Leighton Buzzard, stole money from the till at Stockwood Park Golf Centre, Luton – where he worked as a manager.

This afternoon Luton Crown Court heard that from April 2006 until June 2015 Green stole cash from the centre’s shop till and altered accounting records to show lower takings at the club, which is run by charity Active Luton.

The 38-year-old was only caught out when the records were scrutinised by an Active Luton accountant, who discovered significant discrepancies between till receipts and cash takings.

Believing that it could only be Green that was responsible, the accountant called the police and the 38-year-old was arrested.

During an interview he admitted his guilt, telling officers that he had been pocketing funds to feed a gambling addiction.

This afternoon Judge Lynn Tayton QC sentenced Green to 22 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

During the hearing Michael Speak, prosecuting, told the court that on occasions Green had been stealing £200 a day from the centre’s till, around half its daily takings.

It was heard that Green had ‘almost total control over the accounting system’ and started taking cash monthly, which then became weekly.

In a victim impact statement Active Luton chief executive Helen Barnett said that Green, who had worked for the charity for ten years, was in a position of trust at the time of the substantial theft.

She said: “I want to ensure that Matt is never in a position to abuse trust...I just need to know he can never do this again.

“I am not looking for Matt to receive a custodial sentence but I would need him to know the impact he has had on his colleagues.

“Matt worked as part of a small team and he was the leader of that team.

“I know they have been left very hurt knowing what he has done.”

Ms Barnett added her hope that Green is able to receive help for his gambling addiction.

In mitigation Natalie Goffe, defending, said that since his arrest last July, Green has sought the help of Gamblers Anonymous.

Ms Goffe added: “He accepts full responsibility for his actions and in terms of his police interview he makes it clear he had a gambling addiction and was in a violent relationship in 2010.

“He is deeply remorseful for his actions.

“Mr Green is someone who has made significant progress since those matters came to light.

“He resigned from his position and his thinking was that if he was suspended it would have been on full pay and he didn’t want to cost the charity any money.”

A Proceeds of Crime Order has not been made, but Green was told that he must pay £5,000 compensation to Active Luton, at a rate of £100 per week.

Following the case an Active Luton spokesperson told us: “There are no winners in this case, involving such a sad situation.

“Active Luton is hugely appreciative of the excellent work by Bedfordshire Police in what has been a complex investigation.

“We would like to assure the local community that this was an isolated incident involving one individual.

“The incident has been reported to the Charities Commission which is content with the actions taken.”