A FORMER Mayor who was convicted of pocketing ice-cream cash from a Jubilee gala has been ordered to do unpaid work to pay back his local community after a judge told him he had brought disgrace on his office.

Ripon councillor Andrew Williams was still wearing his official chain as Mayor of Ripon when he was given the £220 as the council’s percentage share of the takings by a trader in June 2012.

But Judge Guy Kearl QC said instead of passing it on he had kept it at a time when he had a gambling problem and was under financial pressure.

“In my view you kept the money, perhaps unwittingly, to continue gambling because it seems you were in a position of some denial at the time," he said.

"What you did is unforgiveable, particularly given that you had chance after chance either to hand the money in or to pay it back and you did nothing initially and then attempted to lie your way out of it, first to the police and then to the jury.

“You have brought disgrace to the position you occupied. People who take up such positions are responsible for upholding the reputation and good name of their office. You have eroded the confidence of members of the public in the position of Mayor of Ripon.”

He added: “I think the most appropriate penalty is that you do unpaid work in the community, for the very community from whom you stole this money, that seems to me to meet the justice of this case."

Williams, 44, then of Pine View, Locker Lane, Ripon was found guilty by a jury at York Crown Court in June on one charge of fraud.

Appearing today (Tuesday, August 5) at Leeds Crown Court for sentence, Rebecca Young prosecuting said Williams, who was then chief executive for a law firm, was found to have “a huge betting problem” and was estimated to have lost about £31,000 between May 1, 2012, and March last year as well as taking out thousands in loans.

An anonymous person had repaid the £220 to the council.

Alasdair Campbell representing Williams, said it was an opportunistic offence. He disputed he had lost as much gambling as the prosecution claimed and had since sought help for it.

He said as a result of the case he had lost not only his then job but another as a credit controller for an asbestos removal company. He had not sought re-election for Harrogate Borough Council or for North Yorkshire Council and is only still a councillor at Ripon until next year to save the cost of a by-election.