Man sentenced for $155k sports club theft

By Jimmy Ellingham

Wayne Reeves of West Auckland has admitted stealing $155,000 from an Auckland sports club. Photo / Facebook
Wayne Reeves of West Auckland has admitted stealing $155,000 from an Auckland sports club. Photo / Facebook

The former chairman of a west Auckland sports organisation he ripped off for more than $150,000 was today told his "selfish" actions put the club's future at risk.

Wayne Darryl Reeves, 52, of Henderson, was sentenced to 10 months' home detention after he previously admitted a charge of theft by a person in a special relationship.

In 2012 Reeves stole $155,000 from Starling Park Sports Club, a partnership between the Waitakere Bears Softball Club and the Ranui Swanson Football Club, based in a new building opened in 2011.

A victim impact statement read to the Waitakere District Court by Starling Park's acting chairwoman Sandy Mills said Reeves' offending put the football and softball clubs at risk of insolvency and liquidation through his "selfish" actions.

Starling Park was now worried about making future applications for funding.

"The result of this theft has had a huge impact on the club's finances and reputation," Ms Mills said.

"It's quite unbelievable you thought you could breach the trust of your peers and use your position to your advantage," she told Reeves.

Defence lawyer Richard Earwaker said Reeves had since raised $50,000 from the sale of his partner's house to repay what he stole, and he offered to pay off the rest through reparation from his builder's wages.

Reeves had worked tirelessly for the club before his offending but decided to dip into its funds to allow him to buy into a business, with the intention of paying back the debt.

However, the plan didn't work out.

"When you look at what occurred, it's one of those completely and utterly out-of-character situations," Mr Earwaker said.

Judge Anna Johns said Starling Park received grants worth about $3.6 million, including a contribution from Auckland Council, towards the construction of the new clubrooms.

The club's board, chaired by Reeves, was responsible for making all the payments towards the construction.

Cheques from the club required two signatories, and Reeves used his and a "fictitious" signature to steal funds.

His actions were discovered in October last year when the club could not meet progress payments to Wilkinson Civil, a contractor carrying out work on an artificial turf.

Auckland Council stepped in with an "undisclosed payment" to cover the situation, and Ms Mills suggested any reparation go to the council.

A court summary says Reeves wrote several personal cheques in an effort conceal his offending but they bounced and his plan unravelled.

He was subsequently dismissed and police became involved.

Reeves is a former coach of the Waitakere Bears' top men's team, and according to the Starling Park Sports Club's website, won the club's "gentleman's cup" in 2009/10.

He was ordered to pay almost $163,000 reparation to Starling Park to cover the money he stole and the club's other costs.

- APNZ

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