THE KNARESBOROUGH secretary of the Pointer Club of the UK has been jailed for stealing £18,415 from its members over 13 years.
Anthony Powell, 57, of Thistle Hill, Knaresborough, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, nine of which were suspended by Judge Paul Hoffman.
Powell pleaded guilty to one charge of theft and five of false accounting between December, 1990, and January this year.
When he appeared before York Crown Court on Wednesday for sentence he also asked for nine other offences of false accounting to be taken into consideration.
Geraldine Kelly, prosecuting, said since 1986 Powell had been the elected secretary of the Pointer Club of the UK, which was affiliated to the Kennel Club.
His wife was treasurer and had authority to sign cheques, but Powell had a background as a financial adviser.
Ms Kelly said: "His wife became no more than an honorary treasurer in name."
Powell's offences came to light in January when the club's chairman telephoned him to ask why a 4,000 bill for printing the yearbook had not been paid.
Initially he claimed there had been a bank mix up, but when she wrote to all members of the committee, he telephoned her to say it was his fault and offered to resign.
The following day he admitted fabricating the club's accounts. He was arrested and told police he had fallen on hard times while working as a financial adviser.
His income had halved and he began using the club's funds, taking the money as a loan and intending to pay it back when his situation improved, but that never happened.
Ms Kelly said that when Powell first became secretary he had the accounts properly audited, but then he told the auditor someone else would do it.
He began photocopying the original auditor's name on to subsequent accounts, submitting false documents to the Pointer Club's annual meeting for 13 consecutive years.
Ms Kelly told the court there was no evidence that Powell had led a luxury lifestyle.
John Harrison, for Powell, said he stood before the court as a man who had thrown away everything for just over 1,000 a year.
"This is not the sort of figure that allows you to live the high life. He has simply been trying to make ends meet."
Powell had been a member of the Pointer Club for 27 years and it had taken up most of his non-working time.
"He has lost all the social contact he had and he is now very isolated. The future of his marriage is uncertain. His wife has been as supportive as she can be but she finds it very difficult because he deceived the club and deceived her."
Mr Harrison said Powell hoped to repay the 18,415 by remortgaging his house, but initially intended to do so by placing the amount on his credit cards.
He told Judge Hoffman: "If your honour allows him his liberty he can find ways to do that. He certainly feels that if he can keep working then repayment can be made."
But Judge Hoffman replied: "You know I cannot do that. He knows and you do, so let's be realistic."
Mr Harrison said the national guidelines for sentencing someone who had stolen between 17,500 and up to 100,000 were two to three years imprisonment.
But he added: "They are only guidelines and I would urge your honour to take a merciful course so that he can put back together the life he has caused to fall apart."
Judge Hoffman told him he was a 57-year-old man of previous good character and it pained him to do what he had to do.
"But for 13 years you have stolen from the people who trusted you. You know I have to lock you up."