A DARTS player used money from his team’s Christmas club to fund his gambling, a court heard.
James Redman, from Hendon, blew nearly £2,000 saved up by a group of friends who meet in a pub to play darts and dominoes.
At Sunderland Magistrates’ Court, the unemployed 54-year-old admitted stealing £1,900 from the group, based at the Hearts of Oak, in Church Street East.
Now the conman has been ordered to pay the money back from his benefits at £5 a week.
Members of the club had been paying a few pounds into the kitty and were expecting a pay-out of about £135 each in September, when Redman confessed to his crime.
Club members became suspicious over his tale of losing the money in a rubbish chute at his home in D’arcy Court, Hendon and called police.
Redman pleaded guilty to one charge of theft at an earlier court hearing in October.
Speaking after the sentencing hearing, club chairman Derek Laing said his share of savings was intended to buy Christmas presents for his grandchildren.
The 64-year-old said Redman “told us that he had lost the money and it had gone in the chute in rubbish bags, and he asked to see everyone concerned.
“There was 14 of us at the meeting. We said, ‘why had he not got in touch with the council so they could check the bags?’
“He waited right until the Wednesday morning when the bins were lifted. He had really spent it on gambling.”
Mr Laing, who has been chairman of the club for 10 years, added: “Everyone has fallen out with everybody else over it, because they don’t want to be in another darts and dominoes club.
“I don’t think it is very nice what he has done.”
Magistrates gave Redman a 12-month community sentence and ordered him to do 100 hours’ unpaid work.
No order for court costs was made, due to his low income.