Plymouth club steward stole from 45 members, court told
A SOCIAL club steward stole the savings of 45 members weeks before Christmas – including one woman who lost almost £2,000, a court heard.
Tonia Bailey is on trial at Plymouth Crown Court for stealing more than £19,000 from members of the Saltram Club.
The 46-year-old is further accused of theft of more than £21,000 from club accounts.
Bailey, of the Barbican, denies both matters and three further charges of false accounting.
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Kaye Cox, a long-term member at the club in St Judes, who sometimes sat on the committee, said members paid in weekly to the thrift club, collecting their money in December.
The court heard how the interest on their combined savings helped pay for a Christmas party for children.
Mrs Cox said she herself collected £10 or £20 a week from fellow members and handed the cash either to Bailey or a woman who worked the door.
She said she believed Bailey was responsible for paying the money into the bank throughout the year.
But Mrs Cox added that Bailey had told her all the thrift club money had been stolen from the safe on November 26, 2010, just before the cash was due to be paid out.
Prosecutor Andrew Maitland said: "That was a considerable personal blow to you, was it not?"
She said: "I lost £1,840 I had been saving for a holiday."
Mrs Cox said she began checking thrift club records to see how much was missing and discovered 45 members had paid in £19,231.
Bailey allegedly stole that sum from the thrift club between December 31, 2009, and November 27, 2010.
She is further accused of theft of £21,671.97 from the social club between January 1, 2010, and February 3, 2011.
Bailey is also accused of three matters of false accounting, where she is said to have falsely recorded the sums passing through club tills in February and March 2010.
Former club president Philip Blatchford said committee members had used some of the thrift club funds to pay a utility bill in June 2010.
Questioned by Judge Paul Darlow, he said the move was "horrifying".
He said: "I was not happy about it. The committee members who were present at the time made an instant decision. I assumed the money would be replaced from the takings.
"I do not know how much it was."
Earlier, club member Gregg Harding told the jury how he was co-opted on to the committee in June 2010.
Mr Harding said he discovered differences in the bar takings and the amounts recorded by Bailey by hand in the banking book – figures which should have tallied, minus deductions such as wages.
He added that he found several examples where the sums to be banked had been rounded down but none where they had been rounded up.
Edward Bailey, for Bailey, said on one occasion petty cash payments explained the discrepancy. On another occasion he said Bailey had simply entered the wrong week's figures in the book.
Mr Bailey said the steward had repeatedly asked for help in controlling the finances.
The trial continues.