Belfast Telegraph

Disgraced dog judge fraudster avoids jail

BY PAUL HIGGINS

The secretary and treasurer of a dog club who swindled more than £5,000 from club funds and charity donations was freed on a suspended jail term after he paid the cash back.

Last April District Judge Mark Hamill gave fraudster Jim Garett Gardner time to get the money together to pay it back, and yesterday solicitor Francine Quinn said cash and cheques totalling the £5,500 he had stolen had been handed to her office, with assurances "the money is in the account to cover the cheques".

Making a compensation order in respect of the Irish Boxer Dog Club, Judge Hamill imposed a nine-month prison term suspended for three years, but warned the pensioner if he reoffended, "that nine months will be served consecutively" to any other sentence.

At an earlier court hearing, 67-year-old Gardner, from Churchill Park in Bangor, pleaded guilty to six fraud charges, including two of forgery, two of theft and two of false accounting on dates between September 2008 and August 5, 2011.

The offences happened when Gardner was the secretary and acting treasurer of the Irish Boxer Dog Club.

Essentially Gardner, a once respected judge of Boxer dogs, forged signatures on a total of 30 cheques made out to himself, drawing on the club's funds.

Money raised by the club for charity, including a £1,450 donation destined for the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, was pocketed by him. He also paid for veterinary treatment for his own dog, but put it through the annual returns as a donation in respect of the club accounts.

Outside the court Gardner refused to comment on either his fraudulent behaviour or the outcome of the case.

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