A HEAD greenkeeper who lost his job at a South Tyneside golf club over a theft scam involving thousands of pounds of property has been spared jail.
John Devlin used his trusted position at Boldon Golf Club to order tools and supplies which he kept for himself but for which the organisation was billed.
When the scam was uncovered, police raided his home and found the stolen equipment, including tools, drills and pressure washers, all stored in his outhouse.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the club claims the scam involved around £8,000 worth of property but the 52-year-old, of Lincoln Way, Fellgate, Jarrow, admitted theft on the basis the goods were valued at nearer £5,000.
The court heard none of the property was needed by the golf club but was useful to Devlin’s “side line operation” as a gardener.
Paul Rowland, prosecuting, told the court Devlin was able to carry out the con with the help of pal Steven Slack, who used his position with a firm who supplied the club to doctor invoices.
Slack, 37, of Fareham Way, Cramlington, admitted false accounting on the basis he made no profit from the fraud.
Devlin was arrested when the chairman of the golf club checked invoices with his supply firm.
Mr Rowland said: “It was apparent many invoices sent to the golf club related to items supplied to Mr Devlin and not the golf club.
“The golf club estimate in the region of £8,000.”
Devlin was arrested and confessed his part.
Mr Rowland added: “He accepted he had ordered tools worth around £5,000 which had been paid for by the golf club.”
Mr Recorder Camp said he accepted both men, who have never been in trouble before, were “genuinely remorseful” and said he would be “amazed” if either appeared before a court again.
The judge said Devlin was in a position of “considerable trust” at the club and added: “You only stopped when you were found out.”
Devlin, who is launching his own gardening business, was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 180 hours’ unpaid work.
Slack was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 120 hours’ unpaid work.