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The head professional at Royal Winchester Golf Club in England has been sentenced to five years in prison for defrauding his employer out of more than £100,000.
Steven Hunter was found guilty after a trial at Salisbury Crown Court, with judge Andrew Barnett describing the 54-year-old's crimes as "extensive, deliberate and deeply wounding to those who put their trust in you."
He added: "Whether motivated by greed or disorganisation that became dishonest, you exploited the club and the trust they had put in you to some considerable degree."
Hunter was in charge of collecting green fees at the Hampshire club but was adjudged to have under-reported the takings and kept the difference for himself over a five-year period from June 2013. In total, this amounted to £109,375 in lost green fees.
In addition, Hunter also stole £11,000 that had been donated to Canine Partners during two charity days that had been organised in memory of long-standing member Les Day. The charity received just £47 of the money raised.
A spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service said: "It was only when the club manager reviewed the figures for income from visitors' fees that the scale of Hunter's fraudulent behaviour was discovered.
"He was consistently claiming that the income was only a third of what it should have been, using the rest of the money to fund his lifestyle."
The court also heard that Hunter funnelled £343,449 of takings from his shop into his own bank account in order to avoid paying tax and didn’t declare retainer payments and VAT payments of more than £105,000 to HMRC.
Robert Shaw was the defence lawyer for Hunter and said his client had voluntarily paid back 50% of what he stole and that he expected the club to be reimbursed fully under the Proceeds of Crimes Act.
A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade M1 (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
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