A MAYOR had a gambling habit when he pocketed £220 of takings from an ice cream van during his community's celebrations of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, it was claimed yesterday (Monday).
Andrew Williams allegedly depended on loans from pay day lenders to tide him over while serving as Ripon's First Citizen in 2012.
A jury was told Mr Williams had put on a suit and his gold chain of office to hand out prizes on the evening of Ripon's Jubilee festivities.
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York Crown Court heard in return for selling ice creams at the event John Taylor, of C & M Ices, had agreed to hand over 20 to 25 per cent of the day's takings.
When he cashed up, he reckoned he owed the authority about £220, said Prosecutor David McGonigal.
He put the cash in a money bag and went around the market square looking for someone from the council to give it to, the jury heard.
Mr Taylor spotted a local councillor Stuart Martin and tried to give it to him. But he refused and pointed out Mr Williams, 43, who was standing nearby, Mr McGonigal continued.
He added: "The defendant was wearing his gold chain of office around his neck and was therefore easily identifiable.
"Mr Martin pointed to Mr Williams and suggested Mr Taylor give him the money.
"Mr Taylor walked across to Mr Williams and gave him the money. That's the prosecution case. Mr Williams' case is he never received the money - that he never received it at all."
The court heard that if Mr Williams did receive the money he had a duty to pass it to Ruth Terry, responsible for banking for the council.
"The prosecution's case is Mr Williams kept the money for his own purposes," added Mr McGonigal.
He added that when interviewed by police Mr Williams said he was under financial pressure because his partner was pregnant and had stopped working.
"It was partly caused by a gambling habit," the prosecutor continued.
"He was taking out payday loans on occasion to tide him over until his next pay cheque came in.
"Because of that financial pressure it gave a motive for Mr Williams to keep that money.
"Instead of handing that money over to Ripon Council - as he should have done because it was their money - he pocketed it."
The court heard when the missing money was noted by the council's jubilee accounting committee Mr Williams offered to chase it up. It was alleged he was claiming to still be chasing the vendor in November.
Towards the end of 2012 the matter was reported to police.
In April 2013, Ms Terry came across an envelope containing £220 in £10 notes. There was no indication who sent it so she handed it to police who arrested Mr Williams on June 23.
Mr Williams, chief executive of a divorce law firm, of Pine View, Locker Lane, Ripon, denies fraud. The trial continues.