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Monthly News Bulletin

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Former Stranraer FC Chairman Admits Fraud

STRANRAER FC'S former chairman Jim Bark has admitted trying to defraud the club of £1000.

Bark (59), of Greenfield Row, Stranraer, gave the Division Three side 40 years' service but was accused this week of compromising the integrity of the entire Stair Park club. His job as a postman is now at risk.

Bark devised a scheme to enter a ticket into the club's weekly draw after the winning numbers were drawn. When interviewed by police he claimed it was a test but was unable to explain what the test was for.

Sheriff Kenneth Hogg told him that he had compromised the integrity of the draw by entering the ticket. The Sheriff said:

"Those entering it must feel it is 100 per cent genuine and this has been compromised by your actions."

He added: "This type of conduct compromises the integrity of the draw and the whole football club. People who pay for these tickets have to rely that it is being run genuinely. Compromising this trust makes it a very serious issue."

Bark, who was a player, coach, committee member and latterly chairman of the club, appeared at Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court on Monday.

He admitted forming a fraudulent scheme to obtain money by claiming to have won the Stranraer FC anniversary draw and that between April 30 and June 30, 2006, he pretended to the club that a person called Hugh Brown from Paisley had won the draw.

Bark admitted entering the ticket after the draw had been made and the winning numbers known in an attempt to induce representatives of the club to pay him £1000.

The Crown accepted not guilty pleas to five other charges of embezzlement.

A second accused, David McCurdy (52), of Bonhill Road, Dumbarton, had a not guilty plea to a charge of pretending to be Hugh Brown and claiming he had been paid £1000 by Bark, accepted by the Crown.

Procurator fiscal Kenny Grieve said the weekly jackpot had a prize of £1000 and was run by the club and open to the public to purchase tickets for £1 each.

On April 30, 2006 the club was celebrating the tenth anniversary of the jackpot and the prize was increased to £2000.

When the draw was made there was only one winning ticket and all the tickets were sorted into bundles as was the normal practice and taken to Stair Park to be stored in case of other claims.

Bark took the tickets back to the ground and two days later a member of the committee received a call on behalf of someone claiming to be "Hugh B" from Paisley, saying he had a winning ticket that had been brought at Sandhead caravan site.

Mr Grieve said checks were carried out and it was discovered that the ticket was not in the Sandhead bundle but one that had been given to Bark.

The fiscal said "Hugh B" then changed his story and said he had bought the ticket at an anniversary function but refused to give his address and was told that no money would be paid.

A few weeks later Bark told the committee he had paid the £1000 out of his own money and then on June 2 the treasurer of the club received a call from "Hugh Brown" saying he had been paid by Bark.

The money, said Mr Grieve, was to be paid out provided "Hugh B" collected it. The police were also notified and they carried out a check that led them back to Bark.

On October 2 Bark had attended the police on a voluntary basis and admitted he had entered the ticket in the name of "Hugh B".

He said he was concerned about the way the lottery was being run but denied putting the ticket in after the draw was made.

He also admitted using an associate with him claiming to be "Hugh Brown" in an attempt to get the funds.

He claimed it was part of a test he had set up but was unable to explain what the test was about or what it would ascertain.

Agent Bill McVicar said it was Bark's first offence and it was an attempted fraud, which had fortunately not cost the club but had opened him up to a very significant loss.

He had been employed as a postman for 35 years and his employers had not yet reached a decision on what they were going to do with him.

Sheriff Hogg called for social inquiry and community service reports. The case was continued until April 17.

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