OAP stole from Lansil Golf Club to pay off debts

Preston Crown Court.  PIC BY ROB LOCK
Preston Crown Court. PIC BY ROB LOCK

A disgraced pensioner betrayed his position as a treasurer at a golf club to pocket £30,000 of subscription fees and £6,000 competition money to fend off his credit card debts.

Robert Harling Livingstone, 71, of High Road, Halton, Lancaster, confessed his crimes to his wife before walking into Lancaster Police Station and telling officers he had stolen £36,000 from the Lansil Club over a three year period, from January 2014 and October 2017 .

Preston’s Sessions House Court heard Livingstone, who had been the treasurer of the golf section of the club for 40 years, was “desperate to confess” and told officers he started stealing the cash when his wife was poorly in hospital and he was under stress from debts.

The retired local authority worker, who has no previous convictions, said he had tried to get back cash through scratch cards, tombolas and competitions.

Prosecuting, Richard Bennett said: “ As treasurer the defendant collected subscriptions. He ordered fixtures books, score cards and other items like ties and blazers.

“At the end of each year he had to provide a balance sheet to the committee.

“On October 21, 2017, the defendant attended of his own volition at Lancaster Police station and requested to speak to officers regarding a crime.

“He frankly told them he desperately needed to confess he had stolen money from the golf club.

“He went on to explain his personal credit card debts were becoming unmanageable and he started stealing a small amount of cash.”

The court heard many members paid £295 annual subscriptions directly to Livingtonse in cash and that he was supposed to bank this money. He would also steal from weekly competition money.

He used the cash on daily living costs and paying his credit card bills.

Lansil Golf Club is part of a club set up by the now closed Lansil Works factory and was bought by employees with a grant from the Sports Council.

It is run by a general committee made up of people from each section of the club and is run by volunteers and a few paid staff.

In a victim impact statement Clifford Atkinson, one of the trustees, said the theft had had a significant impact on the club.

The court heard Livingstone had split with his wife and sold his home.

He is undergoing debt counselling.

Defending, Darren Halsted said he worked in Glasson Docks two days a week and receives £1,600 a month in pensions.

Recorder Andrew Long said: “You stole £36,000 while acting as treasurer, You stole it over a period of time, deliberately, dishonestly, and you took steps to hide what you’d done. “You committed that offence in a serious breach of trust and have caused significant harm to the members of that club.”

He said he “thoroughly deserved” a prison sentence but by the “narrowest of margins” he would suspend it due to his good character, obvious and genuine remorse and that he reported the matter himself.

He received 16 months suspended for two years and a curfew, and must do 200 hours unpaid work.

He must pay £3,600 compensation at £100 a month.