Plymouth club steward stole more than £40,000 - court told
A TRUSTED steward who was heavily in debt stole more than £40,000 at the social club where she worked, a court heard.
Tonia Bailey took money from the Saltram Club's accounts and from a savings club run on behalf of members, Plymouth Crown Court was told.
The 46-year-old, who was in day-to-day charge of the books, then altered the accounts to hide her crime, the jury heard.
The Crown Prosecution Service claimed she hid unpaid bills of tens of thousands of pounds from committee members at the St Judes club.
Andrew Maitland, opening the prosecution's case, said at the same time she and her husband Tony had huge debts – including one for £26,000.
He added that some of those amounts had been paid off by sums of money from unknown sources.
Mr Maitland said Tonia Bailey went through a "charade" of pretending thousands had been stolen from a safe at the club just days before the savings club fund was due to pay out.
He added: "In an act of desperation, what did she do? She invented the theft of £19,000 from the thrift club."
Bailey, of the Barbican, denies five charges.
She is accused of theft of £21,671.97 from the social club between January 1, 2010 and February 3, 2011.
Bailey also allegedly stole £19,231 from the thrift club between December 31, 2009 and November 27, 2010.
She is also accused of three matters of false accounting, where she is said to have falsely recorded the sums passing through club tills in February and March 2010.
Mr Maitland, in opening, told the jury how the club in Salisbury Road had between 900 and 1,000 members and an annual turnover of more than £300,000.
He added that Tonia Bailey, who had been a steward with her husband Tony since 1996, was put in charge of the day-to-day finances in 2003.
The court heard the couple lived rent-free in a flat next to the club.
Mr Bailey did not look after the books and does not face any criminal charges.
Mr Maitland said: "A great deal of trust was placed in her to carry out her duties, particularly financial, after 2003."
But he added that unpaid bills began to mount up, with VAT alone being unpaid for 18 months until a demand of £30,000 arrived.
Mr Maitland said some committee members became aware of the debts, but the police were not called in until November 26, 2010.
Mr Maitland added Tonia Bailey claimed money being saved up by members for the thrift club had been stolen from a safe on that day.
He added only three people, including herself, her husband and a deputy steward, knew the combination.
Mr Maitland said members paid in money to the non-profit club so that interest could be collected to fund a children's Christmas party.
The court heard they were due to be paid back at the start of December.
He added the cash should have been paid regularly into a bank account but in fact no payments had been made.
Mr Maitland said accountants were called into the club and found that £21,671.97 was missing.
He claimed Tonia Bailey had used several methods to steal money and hide her crimes, including under-recording the amount taken from tills.
Mr Maitland said records showed, for example, that some entertainers at the club were supposedly paid two or three times for a single appearance.
The venue, which was established in 1901, closed in January 2011 but has since reopened.
The trial continues.