Ex-Blues pokies venue manager fined $6000

THE former manager of the Warrnambool football club pokies venue was yesterday fined $6000 for theft.

Andrew Robb: gambling problem.

Andrew Robb: gambling problem.

Former club general manager Andrew Robb, 45, of Canterbury Road, yesterday pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to one charge of theft and eight counts of obtaining property by deception relating to $48,500.

Police alleged Robb was escorted from the premises on September 3, 2012, and a satchel which had contained $28,000 in takings was found in his office.

The other charges related to Robb eight times writing fraudulent cheques between March 2010 and June 2012 for winners of weekly jackpot prizes and taking that money out of cash registers.

Defence counsel Pat McComish said the $48,500 had been repaid to the club after Robb borrowed from family members and refinanced his home. 

He said Robb’s wife and parents wanted to be in court but his client asked them to not attend due to the shame and stress his actions had already caused.

Asked by magistrate Michael Coghlan about the delay between police being notified in September 2012 and charges being issued on May 20 this year, police prosecutor Senior Constable Paul Harris said the accounts of the club were examined by a Melbourne specialist before police proceeded with charges.

Mr McComish said Robb had attended counselling for a horse racing gambling problem during the past 17 months.

He said that at the time of the offending Robb was balancing his duties as general manager and his punting habit in an environment which encouraged gambling.

The solicitor said Robb had done enormously well for the venue, lifting membership from 400 to 1500 and working up to 60 hours a week. The club was a major supporter of charities and the job had basically been his client’s life, he said.

Mr McComish said his client would now always endure the guilt, shame and scorn of the local community. 

He said Robb had considered leaving Warrnambool after having trouble finding work but he gained employment, was now a qualified chef, had stopped gambling and rebuilt his life and career.

Police said Robb started working at the football club on January 31, 1993, taking over as manager on November 29, 1999, and was still in that position when financial management concerns were raised by then club board chairman Mark O’Keeffe in May 2012.

On August 28 that year Robb resigned. He was to finish on September 25 but concerns came to a head on September 3 when Robb and board members met and he was sacked.

Two board members found the satchel in Robb’s office.

Later that day Robb contacted Mr O’Keeffe and requested a meeting in which he offered to pay back the $28,000.

At a further meeting on September 9, Robb revealed there could be other discrepancies and he offered to pay $50,000 and forego $20,000 in entitlements if he received a signed document from Mr O’Keeffe that the settlement would remain quiet.

Mr O’Keeffe said it was not his decision to make and it was a board matter.

In convicting and fining Robb $6000, Mr Coghlan said it took a great deal of effort to build a reputation which could be ruined in smaller communities by such offending.

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