He won top prizes for his batting —but cricketer Matthew Essex is now a disgraced sportsman, after stealing at least £20,000 from the Huddersfield cricket club where was the treasurer.
Leeds Crown Court heard Essex’s dishonesty was discovered last year after he resigned from the Lascelles Hall club in Highfield Lane.
He had not completed the accounts and when checks were made money was found to be missing.
Ben Thomas, prosecuting, said Essex became the treasurer in 2011. The club had two bank accounts and cheques were to be authorised by two signatures from the chairman, club secretary or treasurer.
Investigation later revealed that between June 21 2011 and March 15, 2014 seven debit cards had been issued on the accounts all sent to the defendant at an address in College Avenue.
Mr Thomas said Essex used the cards to steal for his own benefit. Because he had kept the records it was not possible to say an exact amount taken but an officer had prepared a spread sheet on the deductions.
Essex maintained he had spent some money legitimately for the club.
“Giving him the benefit of the doubt the officer has limited the cash withdrawals that have been taken into account to outside the cricket season from October to March.”
He said it was the Crown’s estimate that in all, some £28,000 had been. Essex, having maintained initially he had only taken £2,000, now accepted it was around £20,000.
Mr Thomas said 10 cheques were also found to have been made out to Essex’s partner Verity Bates totalling £6,350. She had repaid that money and was given a community order for fraud by magistrates.
Peter Byrne representing Essex said he had taken on the position of treasurer when nobody else wanted it and it was not a paid position.
When investigation was made the bank had clearly not followed the procedure requested for the number of people approving expenditure but he accepted his responsibility and “he is deeply ashamed.”
He said Essex had lost his job in credit control when the allegations were made but had managed to get another position and intended to repay some of the money but it was being held pending a proceeds of crime hearing.
Essex, 35, of Briarlyn Avenue, Birchencliffe, admitted theft and was sentenced to 10 months in prison suspended for two years with 160 hours unpaid work and 10 days activity.
Judge Neil Clark told him: “You were in a position of trust in relation to that club and over a period of time you stole from them. It doesn’t take a long time if you steal regularly for the sum to build up.”
But he accepted he was normally a hard-working man and had emotional problems which a probation officer believed could be addressed.
Essex, who was a regular for the Lascelles Hall club, is now registered with another Drakes Huddersfield League club, Rastrick.