Stevenage FC academy recruiter stole £15k to fund gambling

image copyrightSBNA
image captionIan Morris took up gambling as "a distraction" after his marriage failed, the court heard

A football club's head of academy recruitment diverted more than £15,000 intended for youngsters' kit to his own bank account.

Ian Morris, of Walgrave Road, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, gave 64 parents his bank details instead of those of his employer, Stevenage FC.

The 38-year-old was caught by the club in 2019, confessed and admitted to a gambling addiction.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud at St Albans Crown Court.

image copyrightRex Features
image captionHe is now working as a cleaner to pay the club back

Morris was "in a position of trust" as head of academy recruitment for the club between 1 July 2015 and 25 March 2019, prosecutor Charles Judge told the court.

He would bill parents for subscriptions and kit but, instead of giving them the club's bank account information, he gave them his own details, the court heard.

The theft was discovered during an internal audit in November 2018.

Mitigating, Will Noble said Morris' marriage broke down in 2015 and he began gambling as "escapism and as "a distraction".

He added Morris, who is now working as a cleaner to pay back the money, was grateful to the club for their help once they became aware of his gambling problem.

Recorder Patrick Fields said it was to his credit that he had confessed, but added: "£15,000 is a significant sum of money for a football club like Stevenage."

Morris pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position and fraud by false representation.

He was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay £15,247 compensation at the rate of £400 a month.

Stevenage finished bottom of League Two and are due to be relegated to the National League, but its fate is still to be decided as it is subject to an appeal by the English Football League.

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