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Secretary of Coxhoe Allotment Association stole from funds, court told
A CIVIL servant has admitted stealing over £4,000 from a community allotment association.
Alan McKeen, former secretary of Coxhoe Allotment Association, appeared at Peterlee Magistrates Court today. (Monday, October 21)
The 44-year-old, of Linden Terrace, Coxoe, County Durham, pleaded guilty to one count of theft of £4,262.50 between August 8 last year and December 18.
The money included £500 in savings and a grant from Durham County Council to provide a water supply for allotment users.
Debra Jones, prosecuting, said: “Another secretary noticed anomalies, a committee meeting was called and enquiries were made.”
After it emerged McKeen had transferred the cash to his account, he said it was to help cope with mounting personal debts.
Mrs Jones said: “He said his wife had failed to control her spending habit and he had ended up in debt.
“He knew what he was doing was wrong. He thought he was getting away with it.
“He thought he would be able to repay some of the money back. Clearly, this is a breach of trust. It is an association set up to better the facilities they are working with.
“He has accepted in interview that he is guilty and accepted his culpability here today.”
The court heard McKenn has repaid around £1,500 of the money to the association, which has 30 members, since he was arrested.
Ian Hudson, mitigating, said McKeen was sorry for what he had done.
He said: “This is a case where someone commits one error in their life and they have to pay the price. Having no money was the catalyst to the problem. It has spiralled out of control.
“There is genuine remorse.”
The case was adjourned for the preparation of pre-sentence reports and McKeen was granted unconditional bail until November 18.
After the hearing Bill Hornsby, chairman of the allotment association, said: “We have been very much let down. It is very much a breach of trust.
“I am pleased it looks like justice will be done and hope recompense can be made to the allotment association then this sorry matter can finally be done with.”
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