Ex-chairman of Rainham community group stole �30k

�Members of a community group have accused their former chairman of betraying their trust after he swindled approximately �30,000 from the club.

John Wilcox from Faymore Gardens, South Ockendon was handed a 12 month sentence suspended for 24 months after he pleaded guilty to stealing the sums from the Bretons Community Association in Rainham Road, Rainham on Friday July 29 at Basildon Crown Court.

The 58-year-old also has to pay back �5,000 and has to do 300 hours of unpaid work.

But his shocked colleagues and friends have hit out over the sentence arguing that it is too lenient.

Chairman of the social club committee, David Causley said: “The sentence is not hard enough but thats the problem with the whole justice system today.

“The members are all really upset because its all run on trust and it is almost as if someone has betrayed our trust.”

Mr Wilcox had been involved with the club, with his wife who was treasurer for the last 10 years.

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He became chairman of the association, which hosts a social club and activities for young people and children about eight years ago.

Mr Causley says that the committee became suspicious just before Christmas after none of the accounts showed up after repeated requests to see them.

Mr Causley said: “It was a big shock because we all trusted him and he put a lot of his time and energy into the place.

“If he had a great big house, it would be easier to take it but he seemed to live a normal life.”

He added: “It is a voluntary association and all the money that we make has to be fed back into the community and now there is nothing there to put into the community, but we just have to try to dust ourselves off and start again.”

The community association have released a statement about the sentencing, it read: “Mr Wilcox, the chairman of the Bretons Association was arrested on January 4 and Mr Wilcox along with his wife was immediately removed from their positions of trust and after an investigation he was charged with stealing approximately �30,000.

The committee are satisfied that justice has been carried out.The members and the committee are obviously upset that this has occurred in what has always been and always will be a very friendly and well run community association.”