Pub landlady stole �30,000 from scouts

A PUB landlady who stole more than �30,000 from Scouts in Essex to pay mounting debts has been spared jail after a judge decided to show her mercy.

James Hore

A PUB landlady who stole more than �30,000 from Scouts in Essex to pay mounting debts has been spared jail after a judge decided to show her mercy.

Mother-of-two Lisa Lock ran the Rose and Crown at Great Horkesley but took advantage of her trusted role as treasurer of the Colchester West District Scouts to write cheques of up to �5,000 during three years of thefts.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard yesterday the 36-year-old, who pleaded guilty to 13 counts of theft, caused tragic financial difficulties and caused events to be cancelled.

Richard Stevens, prosecuting, said as treasurer, Lock had been responsible for dealing with the scouts' membership fees and also dealt with invoices and payments for hall hire.

He said because of the trust placed in her, it had been “relatively easy” to pilfer a substantial amount of money.

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Between 2003 and 2006 Lock, of Cowdray Avenue, Colchester, wrote 13 cheques out totalling �31,235 to pay towards debts on the Rose and Crown pub, which she left in December 2006.

She made the cheques out to the pub as well as a man who lent money to help with the debts and also to a domestic appliance company owned by her father, who was also involved with the scouting organisation.

When the Scouts realised the money was missing in 2007, Lock initially made excuses but police were called to investigate.

During interview, Lock read out a prepared statement, admitting writing two cheques improperly for �9,500, but said she intended to repay them.

However, when she was asked about other matters she made no comment.

Recorder Gerard Pounder, sentencing, said jail was “richly deserved” but said he was showing mercy by giving Lock a 12-month suspended sentence on each of the 13 counts, to run concurrently.

“There is no evidence of you spending the money on expensive holidays, high-living and expensive cars.

“It seems clear that it all went into the business, as such, keeping things ticking over,” he said.

Lock, who was in tears as she was sentenced, was also ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid community work and pay �300 costs.

She was also placed on two-year supervision order.

Elizabeth Bradshaw, mitigating, said Lock was of previous good character and had been suffering from depression when the thefts took place.

She said Lock had been paying back the money before the police were involved and had also paid back roughly �15,000 of the money she stole.

“Her intention has always been to pay back the money in full,” she said.

Miss Bradshaw said it had been a “low point” for Lock who she said had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and accepted full responsibility for her actions.

“Any money she took was not to fund a lavish lifestyle,” she said.

Bob Russell, who is the Colchester MP, and secretary of the all-party parliamentary scout group, said: “Clearly voluntary groups rely on trust and occasionally that trust is breached.

“It is, in scouting terms, a very rare occurrence and I can't recall anything of this magnitude locally.

“I am shocked because any voluntary organisations, whether it be scouts or any other organisation, does rely on trust of individuals and when that trust is breached, it is very sad.

“Most people who hold positions of trust don't abuse it and let the side down - clearly she has let the side down here and I hope that she will move swiftly to make amends for her very serious breach.”

james.hore@eadt.co.uk