Former Nyngan business owner in prison for stealing over $90,000

TROUBLING TIMES: Dubbo City Bowling Club was rocked by the theft of around $90,000. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

TROUBLING TIMES: Dubbo City Bowling Club was rocked by the theft of around $90,000. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

A former Dubbo City Bowling Club manager who stole around $90,000 from the club to fund a gambling habit has been sent to prison.

Adam John Lee, of Old Bar on the Mid North Coast, pleaded guilty to stealing from his employer.

In January, the 41-year-old was convicted of stealing in Dubbo Local Court and ordered to serve a 15 month prison term, with a non-parole period of 11 months and seven days.

He appealed that sentence in the District Court in Dubbo on Wednesday.

While part of the appeal was upheld, Judge Philip Ingram reduced Lee's non-parole period to nine months.

Judge Ingram also ordered Lee to pay back the $90,447 he stole from the club between May 2015 and July 2016.

The court heard the money Lee took came from a range of sources including daily takings, poker machine profits, footy tipping fees and TAB takings.

In May 2016 the former Nyngan business owner refused to give an an auditor access to the club's financial records.

That proved Lee's undoing and in July 2016 he stopped going to work.

Later that month he wrote a resignation letter to the club officials.

In it he also confessed to stealing around $70,000 from a safe at the club a figure club officials later realised was lower than what forensic accountants discovered had actually been taken.

Court documents seen by Australian Community Media reveal that in August 2016, Lee discussed the situation with the former chairman and vice chairman of the club.

The theft was reported to Dubbo police in November 2016 after a new chairman was elected to lead the club.

During the sentencing hearing, Lee's legal representative said he was remorseful for his behaviour.

"He hopes to commence work and enter a payment plan to repay the money," she said.

As the verdict was delivered, Judge Ingram took into account Lee's lack of a criminal history and the fact he lived with a depressive disorder, alcoholism and gambling addiction.

He said those issues did not mean Lee was unaware his stealing was wrong.

"The theft of such an amount has ultimately led the Bowling Club to be placed under financial stress."

The court heard Lee has good prospects of rehabilitation and is unlikely to re-offend.

He is eligible for parole on January 16, 2020.

Dubbo City Bowling Club is now amalgamating with Dubbo RSL Club.