Village hall treasurer jailed after stealing cash to help his business

Andrew Bouton has been jailed for 14 months

Andrew Bouton has been jailed for 14 months - Credit: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

The former treasurer of a Suffolk village hall who stole more than £17,000 after his business's finances went “pear shaped” has been jailed for 14 months.

Sixty-eight-year-old Andrew Bouton made 50 transfers from Kelsale Village Hall’s management committee account into his own bank account over a period of two years, Ipswich Crown Court heard. 

Sentencing Bouton, Recorder Darren Reed said: “This offence is so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence can be justified.” 

He said Kelsale Village Hall was run as a charitable organisation on behalf of the village and it had been seriously impacted by the fraud.

He said members of the village hall committee were concerned about getting grants in the future as a result of the fraud as it was vital that charities were seen to be run on a sound footing. 

The committee was also concerned about the upkeep and renovations to the village hall as Bouton had not repaid any of the stolen money, despite assurances that he would.

Bouton, of Lay Hill Road, Kelsale cum Carlton, admitted fraud by abuse of position between February 16, 2018, and May 30, 2020, 

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Andrew Price, prosecuting, said Bouton had become treasurer in 2017 and had suggested that the village hall accounts should be moved to online banking.

Concerns were raised when it was noticed that there was not as much money in the management committee account as there should have been.

It was subsequently discovered that Bouton had transferred money from the village hall account into his personal accounts on 50 occasions over a two year period totalling £17,896.

When Bouton was confronted about the missing money he had apologised and made full admissions about what he’d done.

He pleaded with the chairman not to report what he’d done as he didn’t want his wife to find out and said he would pay back the money.

The police were contacted and Bouton said he’d taken the money at a time when his business and his wife’s business had been struggling.

Steven Dyble, for Bouton, said his client committed the offence after things went pear shaped with his business and he ran out of options.

He said Bouton felt genuine remorse and had taken the money believing he would be able to repay it before it was missed.

He said Bouton’s wife had left him and he was unemployed.