A former Gungahlin United Football president has been found guilty of stealing more than $31,000 from the club to fund car lease payments, make personal purchases and top up his own bank account.
Forde resident Aaron Alexander was originally charged with 108 counts of obtaining property by deception, all of which were dismissed by Magistrate Glenn Theakston.
However the prosecution had submitted 108 back-up theft charges, some of which were dismissed, which left him with 70 charges to fight.
Following a five-day hearing, he was ultimately found guilty of 65 charges of theft.
Magistrate Theakston found Alexander had stolen the money from December 2017 to July 2018 while he had exclusive access to the club’s main bank account. He also had a separate debit card provided to him by the club for club-related purchases.
Funds had been transferred from the club’s main account, and purchases made on the separate debit card, which were found to have been thefts totalling $31,097.86.
Transactions on the card included at Hoyts, Telstra, Just Jeans and the ACT Road User Service.
Magistrate Theakston dismissed arguments Alexander’s girlfriend or other club members could have used the card.
“I find it inherently implausible that the card issued to the defendant was borrowed by unknown others on game days to pay fines or taxes at the ACT Road User Service, or purchase goods or services from Telstra, Hoyts, a pet store … I also note that on each occasion the card was not used on the weekend,” he said.
He also dismissed claims the transactions at Hoyts and Just Jeans were for gift cards or uniform purchases.
“The [Hoyts] transaction was for $39, a very odd amount for a gift card … I similarly find it inherently implausible that $41.97 was spent at Just Jeans for the purpose of a gift card or something similar,” Magistrate Theakston said.
“The defendant also submitted that the [Just Jeans] transaction may relate to an urgent purchase of club-related clothing. That is equally implausible.
“It defies logic that clothing for a sporting club would be sourced from a jeans and street fashion retailer such as Just Jeans.”
Monthly payments totalling $8,233.65 were made over nine months to Macquarie Leasing to cover repayments on Alexander’s car. Magistrate Theakston found these transactions were “patently beyond” legitimate use of club funds.
“This is so obvious it is axiomatic,” he said.
“The suggestion to the contrary borders on being fanciful. In any event, there was evidence that the vehicle wasn’t used much for club purposes.”
Several of the club’s funds had also been transferred into Alexander’s bank accounts, in amounts mainly in multiples of $50 and occasionally in multiples of $100.
Magistrate Theakston said while there was evidence the club would reimburse members for legitimate club expenses paid with personal funds, Alexander had access to both a club-funded debit card and the online banking system.
“It beggars belief that he, as an experienced businessman, would routinely first use his own funds to pay legitimate club expenses and then separately obtain reimbursement,” he said.
Alexander was acquitted of five charges relating to cash withdrawals totalling $15,837.74 and one transaction worth $324.43 to a dart shop.
Magistrate Theakston said while he had “serious doubts”, he could not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the cash was used for personal reasons as there had been evidence of the club using cash to pay vendors.
There had also been discussions about the club hosting a dart competition as a fundraiser, which meant that transaction could have been a legitimate club expense, but “only just”.
Alexander is next scheduled to appear in court on 13 October.
Original Article published by Claire Fenwicke on Riotact.