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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Man stole because he was being blackmailed about paedophile past, court told

A fishing club treasurer stole thousands after claiming he was blackmailed about his paedophile past.

Gary Davies photo
Gary Davies

Gary Davies, 56, took more than £2,500 from the North West Sea Angling League and Workington and District Sea Angling Club after agreeing to act as treasurer.

But, unbeknown to fellow members, he spent months raiding the accounts of both clubs, squandering cash raised by fundraisers.

When confronted by the police, Davies claimed that he was being blackmailed by somebody who knew about his past, which includes convictions for downloading child pornography and indecently assaulting an 11-year-old girl in 1997.

In court, he pleaded guilty to stealing £1,531 from the North West Sea Angling League and £1,094 from Workington and District Sea Angling Club. He also admitted twice breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) imposed in 2004.

Davies did this by using an internet-enabled laptop computer and an iPhone, which he is barred from doing under the terms of the order; and by having unsupervised meetings with a 15-year-old boy.

Beccy McGregor, prosecuting, said Davies, of Firth View Walk, Workington, was given a SOPO after he admitted nine offences of making indecent photos of children. Miss McGregor said: “He became treasurer of the North West Sea Angling League and also of the Workington and District Sea Angling Club.”

In January last year, while volunteering for the clubs, Davies arranged for a 15-year-old boy to meet him in his house so he could give him fishing hooks.

The same boy went back to the house last June so he could use the defendant’s PayPal account, though the teenager later said Davies did nothing to suggest that he had a sexual motive.

Confronted by police, the defendant said he knew he was prohibited from having unsupervised contact with children but “hadn’t thought about it”.

In January officials at the angling clubs questioned whether it was appropriate for Davies to hold the post of treasurer.

They spoke to him and the defendant admitted owing £280 to the Workington club and £749 to the league. An examination of the books showed Davies used false accounting to cover his tracks, and that he had taken far more than admitted.

The missing cash included subscription money and £93 raised from a raffle.

Miss McGregor said: “Initially, he denied any wrongdoing. He claimed he was being blackmailed.

“He said he was paying £50 per week and that he was in financial difficulty. He admitted stealing from the club and said he’d spent all the money.”

Miss McGregor outlined the defendant’s criminal history, which includes 34 offences going back to 1986. His crimes include theft and forgery.

There was also an indecent assault in 1991, and, in 1997, while he worked in a shop in Burnley, an indecent assault on an 11-year-old girl.

In 2002, he helped a 14-year-old girl forge an ID pass to get her into a nightclub.

Miss McGregor said his latest theft had left the Workington angling club with an overdraft, and meant that the North West Angling League only narrowly avoided bankruptcy.

Mark Shepherd, for Davies, said his client, who is on Disability Living Allowance, provides daily care for his former partner, who faced having to go into a £1,200 a week nursing home without his help.

Passing sentence, Judge Barbara Forrester said the angling club officials would not have let Davies anywhere near the post of treasurer had they known about his history.

Davies was given two years jail, but the sentence was suspended for two years.

He must observe a 7pm to 7am curfew for the next six months and fully compensate the two sea angling clubs at a rate of £50 per week.

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