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Rock-It-Ball duo to repay grants cash
THE York-based organisers of a grass-roots sport have been ordered to repay thousands of pounds after submitting false invoices to charities funding them.
Craig Buttery, of Ryedale Crescent, Kirkbymoorside, and Paul Hildreth, of Grey Garth, Newton-on-Ouse, had applied for grants worth upwards of £60,000 from organisations including the National Lottery Awards For All scheme and the Tees Valley Community Foundation, to help promote Rock-It-Ball.
The men appeared before Leeds Combined Court yesterday and pleaded guilty to two charges of false accounting, including £24,184 to Awards For All, and £6,189 to Tees Valley Community Foundation, in 2007.
Prosecutor Andrew Semple told the court Buttery and Hildreth had made a number of identical applications to the organisations with stipulations as to what the funds would be spent on.
This included kit, advertising banners and equipment for the sport, which has similarities to lacrosse and dodgeball, and was co-invented by Hildreth in 2005.
Mr Semple said: "The defendants were arrested and initially denied any dishonesty, but eventually accepted fraudulent invoices as a result of incompetence and chaos rather than from anything else."
An investigation by police and the organisations showed the funds had been spent on other aspects of the sport, and that while the men made no personal gain from the false invoices, the conditions of the grants were not met.
Judge Christopher Batty told the men he was impressed with the number of statements he had received praising their work and character, and he hoped they could still work to promote the sport.
He said: “It is no doubt a sad day for both of you because in saying the word ‘guilty’, you have lost your hitherto impeccable characters.
“I do not think I have ever seen in any case as many testimonials and certainly never seen people spoken of in the way you have been. It is a shame, therefore, it has come to this.”
Buttery and Hildreth were each ordered to pay compensation of £12,092.33 to the Awards For All scheme, and £3,094.67 to the Tees Valley Community Foundation. Both were also given a 12-month community order, and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work in the community.
• Rock-It-Ball has been described as akin to “dodgeball on steroids”, and involves the use of low-impact tennis-style balls and a Rock-It, which looks like a double-ended lacrosse stick.