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Social club treasurer jailed for multi-thousand pound fraud

Michael Launders

[A] CROOKED treasurer whose multi-thousand pound fraud brought a West Cumbria bus drivers’ social group “to its knees” has been jailed.

Michael Launders, 53, left Lillyhall-based CMS (Cumberland Motor Services) Social Club “absolutely potless” by plundering accounts he should have been safeguarding during a three-and-a-half-year period.

Launders was said to have stolen between £6,000 and £11,000 from a member-owned organisation which provides social events and trips for bus drivers and their families. A children’s Christmas party was almost cancelled due to lack of funds brought about by the ex-treasurer’s fraud, which is said to have cost the club members and trust.

However, dedication and hard work by group members since the crime came to light had brought it back from the brink.

At Carlisle Crown Court, Launders, of St Nicholas Avenue, Flimby, admitted a fraud committed between October, 2011, and March, 2015, having previously denied any wrongdoing. It was accepted he had paid back £2,000.

He was handed an immediate 20-month prison term today (WED) by Recorder David Swinnerton, who said: “You let down and abused the trust of your colleagues and your friends and everybody at that club.”

CMS Social Club spokesman Stephen George said of Launders’ fraud: “The committee worked on the basis of trust. He to us was our friend. He didn’t just steal off me, off one person. He stole off every single member, every single woman and every child that was affiliated to that club.

“He stole off everyone. He stole from them and it disgusts me.”

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