A Redruth rugby coach has been jailed for nine months for stealing thousands of pounds from player’s parents to feed his gambling addiction.
Vincent May, of Perran Sands holiday park, Perranporth, admitted the theft of £5,365 from individuals between September 1, 2012, and February 16, this year.
The cash had been collected to cover the costs of accommodation at Butlin’s in Minehead as part of a children's rugby tour.
The court was told that he had also stolen fees for the previous year’s tour which he covered up after his wife paid the bill.
Sentencing May, at Truro Crown Court on Friday, Judge John Neligan, said his gambling had “spiralled out of control.”
He said that a custodial sentence was his only option as May was in breach of a three year conditional discharge; imposed six weeks before his thieving spree for falsifying his tachograph records.
The judge said: “Your gambling addiction took over it was a classic case of the next big bet will be the one to save me.
“The club entrusted you with their money for their accommodation and coach which you pocketed mercilessly. The tour went ahead because parents dug deep in their own pockets to help the children.”
Club member, Phil Williams, called it a “disgusting” crime, saying: “This is a fantastic result, justice has been done. The parents and children were shocked and upset by the theft. They found out during their journey to Minehead, I heard the children crying and screaming on the coach.
“We are all volunteers. May told so many lies, all he ever wanted was cash to feed his gambling habit and he didn’t care about the children.”
Head coach, Shaun Maddern, who was a personal friend of May’s who had been at the club for four years, said he was “gob smacked” by the theft.
“He was in my house on the eve of the trip and even waved us off on the day knowing he hadn’t paid.”
The parents have since been reimbursed using funds raised to buy new kits, added Mr Maddern.
Prosecuting Philip Lee: “He received the payments but no receipts were issued and no money was ever banked. Then on February 15 when they were heading to Butlins they discovered that no money had been paid.”
May later told club officials that he had given the money to a friend to use his platinum
bank card to pay the accommodation, who he claimed had ‘done a runner’.
“This was all lies,” said Mr Lee.
Reading a mobile text May sent to the club, Mr Lee said: “I have a gambling problem that got out of hand. I will pay every penny. I have lost a great group of friends and my family as well.”
Following the theft May paid back £1,000 to the club as a result of a windfall at the betting shop, the judge was told.
Fred Hawell defending May said it was a “horrible offence” and that he was remorseful.
“He hasn’t gambled for two months. He has lost his wife who has kicked him out. There is no Gambler’s Anonymous in Cornwall. He is hoping to go on a course to address his addiction in Birmingham.”