A SOCIAL club boss has described how it could have gone under after its bar manager stole thousands in takings.
Alan Redman used his position at the Cleveleys Royal British Legion to siphon off more than £7,000 of takings.
But yesterday the 39-year-old thief, from Blakiston Street, Fleetwood, narrowly avoided a jail sentence at Preston Crown Court – and was told by a judge he will only have to repay a fraction of the money he stole.
Redman took the cash while he was bar manager at the club in late 2010 and 2011, but only admitted two charges of stealing from his employer earlier this year.
Today Timothy Ferguson, the club’s president, said: “It’s had a big financial impact on the club.
“It put us into the red for a long time which we’ve just recovered from but it could have sent the club down.
“The club is not happy with the final resolution from the court because we are not going to get our money back.
“A lot of people were under suspicion at the time and we are very upset about it.”
Preston Crown Court was told yesterday Redman’s crime was not noticed at the time, but was only picked up on when an accountant went through the club’s books some months later and released the till amounts did not tally with what had been banked by Redman.
At the time, Redman attempted to blame other people and had originally entered a not guilty plea before the court.
Prosecuting, Nick Flanaghan said: “The defendant was interviewed in January 2012 and he gave a full interview denying the offence and at times suggesting other individuals were more likely to have committed the offence.”
The total amount stolen by Redman was £7,252.52.
Defending, Jon Close, said it was “inexplicable” why his client had committed the offence.
He told the court: “He has led an exemplary life.
“The reason for his offending on this date is not something he can explain, what he did or why he did it.
“It is inexplicable.
“He is a good man who committed a very foolish act at a time of very high pressure.”
The court was told Redman’s wife was suffering from terminal cancer, and he was now her carer.
Judge Anthony Russell told Redman his mitigating circumstances allowed him to suspend the eight month prison sentence, but told him he had commited a “despicable” crime.
He said: “It’s sad to see you in the dock at this court having pleaded guilty to these two counts of theft from the Royal British Legion.
“It’s a much loved and respected institution and stealing from it is an utterly despicable thing to do because of the work they do for ex-servicemen and their families.
“Initially you denied it and suggested other people might be responsible and you maintained your denial for a quite considerable time.
“But it is quite clear at the time there were very severe personal stresses in your life.
“These personal stresses may explain the commission of the offences but they do not excuse them.”
Redman was jailed for eight months, suspended for two years, put on two years supervision and ordered to pay £1,200 compensation to the club.