He courted the great and good of the NE Cambs Conservative Party but secretly Tony Dooley was pilfering club takings - £32,000 to be precise

Anthony Dooley

Anthony Dooley - Credit: Archant

With his cheerful disposition and good humour, he won over members and courted the great and good of the Conservative Party.

Chatteris Conservative club. Picture: Steve Williams.

Chatteris Conservative club. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

He was a guest at a prestigious Tory ball and former Fenland councillor John Chambers counted him as a friend. Indeed when Mr Chambers – who stood down at the May election- got married, it was Tony Dooley who drove his fiancé to the register office.

But in his four and a half years as steward of Chatteris Conservative Club, Dooley hid a secret – he was systematically dipping his hand in the till.

By accurately recording daily takings, but falsifying banking returns, he stole £32,023.

And at Peterborough Crown Court on Monday, Dooley, 56, of Irchester, Northants, admitted what he had done.

Lynn Dooley

Lynn Dooley - Credit: Archant

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He will be sentenced on July 17, released on bail, but warned by the judge to expect to be jailed.

His wife Lynn, 57, who stood in the dock with him, was released without charge. She pleaded not guilty and the Crown Prosecution Service accepted her plea with no further action to be taken.

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Dooley and his wife ran the club jointly and were suspended four days before Christmas in 2012. The pair had been paid a joint salary of £25,000 a year excluding rent free accommodation and no utility charges.

Vice chairman Geoffrey Brinton said that “facts and figures were looked at, no satisfactory explanation could be provided and so the Dooleys were suspended”.

Police were called and so began a lengthy investigation during which old till rolls were scrupulously checked for anomalies as a case built against Dooley.

Mr Chambers is pleased with the outcome and said it was “a profound relief” the matter was over; a proceeds of hearing crime will determine if Dooley can repay any of the money but the club is not optimistic.

“There is a sense of relief but in truth we’re all a bit flat,” said Mr Chambers. “The club is slowly recovering but it was a huge loss. We have not been able to employ a full time steward since but luckily a small group of workers now run the club.”

Mr Chambers said it had been a difficult few years and such was the popularity of the former steward there were many who, right up until the guilty plea, had believed in his innocence.

“I suppose you could say the village idiots who believed that have got egg on their face,” he said.

Mr Chambers said the pressure had affected him personally and had contributed to his decision not to stand again as a local councillor.

To cut costs the club has let a building it owns nearby and also rented out the former steward’s flat but Mr Chambers believes with new members coming forward the 101 year-old club can have a bright future.

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