Two men who brought Chorley Football Club to the brink of collapse – after stealing more than £70,000 – have been jailed for more than 20 months each.
Ian Daniels of Wymundsley, Astley Village, and Philip Haslam of Weldbank Lane, Chorley, were sentenced at Preston Crown Court on Friday.
The court heard how one lived in a ‘fantasy world’ of lies – even duping his family into believing that he had cancer so he could live out his obsession for gambling and money.
The other was a shamed accountant who was desperately trying to cover his tracks after losing his life savings.
Judge Christopher Cornwall described Haslam as ‘a man of previous good character which was now lost.’
Addressing Daniels, Judge Cornwall added: “It all started to come about from gambling addictions and an insatiable need for money and his tendency to live in a fantasy world.”
The court heard how the pair were ‘distant relations’ and that Haslam was trying to help Daniels as he was expecting a compensation pay-out by a hospital.
Jon Close prosecuting said: “Mr Daniels had told Adrian Wilcox, his uncle, that he was going to get £100m because of a compensation claim over him having cancer.
“Between March and May, Mr Haslam was giving Daniels money on a regular basis into his account.
“First he gave £25,000 of his own savings and, when Daniels needed more, he continued to give approximately £64,000.
“Mr Haslam knew of the financial difficulties of Mr Daniels and took it upon himself to help him.
“He was aware that Mr Daniels had some form of compensation claim coming through and would pay the money back to the club.” The only problem was that the cancer claims were a lie by Daniels, and Judge Cornwall said: “I find it difficult to understand how you can say that you had cancer when you are a carer for your mum who suffered from breast cancer.”
Haslam appeared in court after pleading guilty to three counts of theft and two of burglary from the Victory Park ground – first taking £300 and then £1000 which took the total amount of money taken to £72,121.96.
Daniels also pleaded guilty to coercing Haslam to do it and being in receipt of the money.
The court how Haslam had taken some of the money while Peter Hardcastle was on holidays and checks would not be made.
The 24-year-old had falsified some bank statements to show that the club was in a healthy position.
But in July 2011 it surfaced that some of the PAYE statements had not been paid and he investigated further to discover problems.
Mr Close, prosecuting, said that the club was told that Mr Haslam was ‘using money to go into bonds which would mature and be going back to the club.’
Haslam, who in his mugshot wore a Chorley FC training top, believed that he was under more pressure to get money .
In September 2011, there were text messages on his mobile phone from Haslam saying: ‘Not a chance that I can get that much.’
It was claimed that Mr Daniels contacted Haslam and said: “The lads will get your family and I will knock your doors down.”
Mr Close added: “Mr Daniels knew that it (the money) was coming from the club and he did not care about that.”
It was later discovered that Haslam had taken keys to Victory Park offices to steal more money from the club for Daniels.
In summing up before handing Haslam a 21-month sentence, Judge Cornwall said: “I find it utterly appalling the way you behaved under pressure and why you did not tell your parents.
“You thought that you could sort it out yourself by covering up but made it worse.
“What makes it so difficult to believe is that you know that your family had a extra-ordinary relationship to the football club.
“Your mother, father and grandfather have been great servants to the club you hold dear and how you can do this breach of trust.”
Daniels was given a 24-month sentence for his role in the incident.
Speaking after the case, Chorley Fc chairman Ken Wright said: “The perpetrators have got their comeuppance with a custodial sentence for this horrible crime.
“At the time of the offence the club was under severe financial pressure.
“We rode through the problems with the help and support of our creditors and local businessmen but now we have some closure.”