By COLIN ADWENT
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
THE former treasurer of Suffolk Amateur Boxing Association is awaiting his fate today after stealing £2,500 from its schools’ account.
Keith Cocker, of Croft Street, Ipswich, admitted 11 charges of fraud, and two of forging his chairman’s signature on cheques, when he appeared before the town’s magistrates.
The 65-year-old claimed he felt compelled to commit the offences after being harassed into doing so by a former lodger, who had assaulted and stolen from him.
The frauds, which totalled £2,530, took place over an eight-month period between June 2011 and February 2012.
Prosecutor Lesla Small said Cocker had been the treasurer of the voluntary association for 20 years.
The offences were reported to police by the organisation’s chairman in July last year.
He told officers £7,000 was missing from the accounts.
Cocker was the sole signatory on cheques until late 2009, when the system was changed to require the dual signatures of the association’s treasurer and chairman.
After the missing money was reported, Cocker was charged with drawing 11 fraudulent cheques worth £2,530.
Seven were made out to a man named Bradley Thorpe, three to Cocker himself, and one to STB Ltd.
Magistrates heard that during a police interview Cocker said Mr Thorpe had been living with him on and off.
Cocker said Mr Thorpe had harassed him and would just turn up, hand the association’s cheque book to him, and make him write the cheques.
The three Cocker wrote for himself went into his Santander account to pay for rent.
Suffolk ABA has now been reimbursed with the £2,530 by Lloyds TSB, which is bearing the loss.
Michael Stephenson, representing Cocker, said: “Mr Cocker seems to have got himself into a position where he was frightened of, and in fact under the power of, a young man who was his lodger.
“The man concerned committed offences of assault against him.
“On January 17, 2012, Mr Thorpe pleaded guilty to two offences of assault, and offences of burglary and theft.
“These were offences of which Mr Cocker was the victim.”
The court was told Thorpe had received a suspended sentence.
However, Mr Stephenson added: “Subsequently that suspended sentenced has been activated.
“This is not quite a case of duress. It doesn’t quite come into that category, but I do think it was something that will be very significant mitigation when the court is actually sentencing.
“There is no doubt that for a substantial period of time Mr Cocker was under the power of this man.”
The magistrates adjourned the case until January 28 for a pre-sentence report.
Cocker was released on unconditional bail.