A “TRUSTED” social club steward who stole almost £11,000 before going on the run for three years has walked free from court.
David Jowsey, 49, fleeced £10,851 from Belle Vue Way Social Club in Hartlepool in 2007.
He disappeared with the cash – but turned up again in town last year, when police arrested him.
Teesside Crown Court heard how fellow club officials were stunned to find the money missing on Monday, March 12, 2007, after Jowsey failed to turn up for work.
Conor Quinn, prosecuting, said: “They examined the contents of the safe and discovered the takings from the previous week of around £4,000 were in fact missing.
“They checked the club paying in book and discovered that no money had been paid in since February 27.
“They suspected there should have been £7,000 to pay and also the £4,000 missing from the takings due to be paid in that day.
“Several attempts were made to contact the defendant by telephone and visiting his home address, but he could not be found.”
CCTV footage from March 6 showed Jowsey going into the safe and taking a bag of money after he had told a club member he was going to pay it into the bank.
As the elected club steward, Jowsey had responsibility for all of the takings.
He was not arrested until January 22 last year when he reappeared.
He was interviewed three times by police, but always denied stealing the money.
In June this year he pleaded guilty to theft on the day he was due to stand trial.
Jowsey’s motive for taking the money remains a mystery, but the court heard he has a history of mental health problems.
Peter Sabiston, mitigating, said the theft coincided with a rapid decline in Jowsey’s personal and mental health.
He said: “He is a very isolated man. He has very little in the way of friends. This is a breach of trust, but not the most serious breach of trust such as by a carer.”
Jowsey, of Wynstay Gardens, Hartlepool, was given a community order with two years of supervision and also a four-month curfew from 9pm to 9am.
Judge Les Spittle said it was obvious Jowsey would be suspected of the theft.
He said: “It lacked sophistication, pre-planning and it lacked cover-up.
“If it had been a cry for help no doubt you would have hung around and sought help, but you didn’t, you absconded.”
The judge said it is his instinct and natural reaction in this case to measure it by a sentence of imprisonment, but added that Jowsey was at the bottom end of the custody threshold.
But after giving Jowsey a community sentence, he added a curfew order aimed at preventing him from taking late-night walks which the court heard were his favourite passtime.
Judge Spittle added: “You made the members of the Belle Vue Way Club suffer and you will suffer as well.”