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Terminally ill treasurer Roy Weston jailed for stealing £58,000 from Rusthall Working Men’s Club

A terminally ill pensioner who stole more than £58,000 while treasurer of a working men’s club has been jailed for three years.

The sentence was imposed on Roy Weston despite a judge hearing his days were numbered as a cancer sufferer and receiving palliative care.

She told him: “Because you had been a member for 35 years you were well regarded. You were one of the lads, one of the mates. You abused that trust.”

Weston has not attended court since August 2
Weston has not attended court since August 2

Weston, of Fremlin Close, Rusthall, failed to attend the end of his trial and at one point was admitted to hospital after a suicide attempt.

The 73-year-old was convicted in his absence of theft and three fraud offences Judge Heather Baucher had indicated that Weston had to attend court for sentence and declared she would send a police car to fetch him if necessary.

He denied siphoning off the cash from Rusthall Working Men’s Club over nearly four years.

But a jury decided that he took funds from lottery machines at the club, fiddled the banking of cheques and raided members’ Christmas fund.

Finances were checked and on the figures provided by Weston it was running almost at a loss. The club went into the red and it was given an overdraft of £8,500.

There was only £3,309 in the “Thrift” Christmas club account when there should have been about £7,449.

Ben Irwin, defending, submitted the court could step outside of sentencing guidelines and impose a suspended sentence in the interests of justice as they were “not one size fits all”.

Weston had worked for 49 years before retiring at the age of 65 and led a law-abiding life.

“He had all sorts of hopes and dreams for his retirement,” said Mr Irwin. “He leads a simple life. He hadn’t been retired long when he received a diagnosis for cancer.

“It began in his prostate and spread to his hips and spine. There is no more treatment for Mr Weston.”

Roy Weston siphoned off more than £58,000 when employed as a working men's club treasure. Picture by: Matthew Walker
Roy Weston siphoned off more than £58,000 when employed as a working men's club treasure. Picture by: Matthew Walker

Told that he was a man in decline, the judge replied: “That applies to us all in many ways, doesn’t it?”

Mr Irwin says: “It doesn’t apply to us all because he has terminal cancer. The bottom line for him is that it is a managed decline.

“He now faces the utterly grim prospect of that decline being managed in a prison environment. No doubt this has taken its toll on him.”

Weston’s poor health, he said, was powerful mitigation. His marriage of 42 years could break down. His wife knew nothing of his criminal behaviour.

“This was not sophisticated offending,” said Mr Irwin. “He was given an inappropriate degree of control. It is now a stark scenario for him.

“He is facing dying in prison and leaving his family in those circumstances in this ignominy. He knows confiscation will follow. That may well cost his wife their home.”

Judge Baucher said the offences had a serious detrimental effect on the victims.

“It is a local club for local people and working people and retirees,” she told Weston. “You were given an important position of trust.”

At the time of the offences the club was suffering financial difficulties and threatened with closure with the loss of jobs.

“You even failed to pay in money for the Christmas club,” the judge continued. “You were busy manoeuvring money around various accounts no doubt to fund your lifestyle.

“There were multiple victims. Blame was wrongly placed on others.”

Judge Baucher conceded it was “not an easy sentencing exercise”, but concluded it had to be immediate imprisonment.”

Weston nodded before being taken to the cells.

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