Doncaster Belles helper jailed for stealing holiday money

Jill North
Jill North

A Doncaster Belles volunteer has been jailed after embezzling cash which was supposed to pay for a children’s football tour.

Jillian North had encouraged parents to raise money to pay for a trip for the girls in the junior section which would have seen them playing matches against teams in the Netherlands.

North, of Highfield Road, Askern, has now admitted fraud and has been ordered to pay back over £1,000

Belles Juniors officials this week praised police for their investigation after 52-year-old North was jailed for 12 weeks at Sheffield Crown Court.

She was said to have been an ‘enthusiastic volunteer’ at the club for a number of years, assisting her husband with the administration of one of the club’s teams.

Despite volunteers being banned from raising money for specific teams, she encouraged parents and players to engage in fundraising towards a proposed end-of-season Dutch tour during the summer of 2013.

North then kept the money for herself and once the club became aware of the situation she repeatedly failed to respond to requests to return the funds providing a succession of bizarre explanations for delaying repayment, said club secretary Chris Wright.

She lied to police several times over a period of months, telling them that she had re-paid the money but last week admitted an offence of fraud committed between September 2012 and May 28 last year.

North was ordered to repay the outstanding £1,098.50 within nine months or face further imprisonment on top of what she will serve.

The club has pledged that if the money is ever repaid it will be used to reimburse the players and their families whose continental tour hopes were dashed.

After the court hearing, Mr Wright said: “Because the money has still not been paid, the tour to Holland, which for some people represented their summer holiday, had to be cancelled with parents and players losing substantial deposits.

“The club have pledged that if the money is ever repaid it will be used to reimburse the players and their families.

“It is particularly upsetting that Mrs North chose to steal money intended to benefit young people. Many of those young people and their parents considered Mrs North to be a friend; indeed, several parents withdrew their children from the club, refusing to believe that Mrs North had done anything wrong.

“The club would like to thank South Yorkshire Police for their diligent investigative work and support throughout.”

About 200 girls aged between six and 16 are members of the Belles Juniors, who train at Balby Carr Sports Academy.