Barry Leddicoat

Sporting club treasurer jailed for $75,000 fraud

A SPORTING club treasurer had "robbed Peter to pay Paul", moving $75,000 from the club into his own business, Toowoomba District Court has heard.

John Michael Lane, 52, had been treasurer of the Australian Karting Association of Queensland for 11 years, the court heard.

However, the association's Australian parent body found the Queensland organisation owed it $75,000 in fees and payments.

Lane told club officials he had been very busy with his own business and had not been able to organise the payments.

In fact, he had moved $75,000 through four separate cheques between November 2010 and May 2011 from the karting organisation into a new business in which he was a partner, Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Kelso told the court.

Eventually, Lane moved $75,000 from the business in two cheques to replace the money missing from the karting club.

Therefore, though neither karting club was out of pocket in the end, Lane had committed two counts of fraud in taking the money from the karting club and then taking $75,000 from the business to cover that, she said.

The business had not been repaid the $75,000, Ms Kelso told the court.

Lane pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud to the value of more than $30,000.

Ms Kelso likened Lane's offending to "robbing Peter to pay Paul" and submitted his was a significant breach of trust.

The court heard Lane at the time had thought his new business was about to "hit the big time" and that he would have made enough money to cover the $75,000 taken from the karting club.

He had been under financial stress at the time and a psychological report tended to the court claimed he had been suffering depression and stress at the time of the offending.

Lane had put more than $200,000 into the new business venture with a financial partner before taking the money and this offending had ended his long career in the banking and finance industries, the court heard.

Lane had no previous criminal history at all and was otherwise of good character, attested to by references tended to the court by people who spoke highly of him.

Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC said sentencing Lane was a difficult proposition as the karting clubs had been repaid in full, albeit by money through a second fraud on a business into which he had put considerable funds.

Noting he had the support of his family and that the psychologist's report stated he was unlikely to re-offend, Judge Horneman-Wren sentenced Lane to three years in jail but ordered the term be suspended after he has served six months behind bars.

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