Musselburgh golf club treasurer who stole £11k faces jail

A TREASURER who embezzled thousands of pounds from a prestigious golf club is facing a jail sentence after he admitted lying to a sheriff during his trial.

Thursday, 20th August 2015, 6:05 pm
Royal Musselburgh Golf Course. Picture: Andrew Stuart

Barry Miller was in charge of the finances at the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club when £11,000 went missing from the club’s accounts four years ago.

Miller, described in court as “a financial wizard”, had claimed he had he had invested the cash in a bid to turn a profit for the club.

But during his trial the former financial advisor could provide no proof he was ever authorised to do so, or prove where the money actually went.

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And during a court appearance last month Miller, from Edinburgh, told Sheriff Kevin Drummond that his father Samuel was looking after £11,500 of the investment’s proceeds which would be paid back to the golf club.

But during today’s court appearance Miller told the sheriff he had given “inaccurate information” regarding the cash and that no money was being held by his father.

Sheriff Drummond then asked Miller, a former financial advisor with HSBC, was there any “difference between being incorrect and a lie”

Miller replied: “It was incorrect information I gave you, yes.”

Following the conclusion of the trial today, Sheriff Drummond found Miller guilty of embezzling £11,000 while treasurer at the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club, near Prestonpans, East Lothian, between June 1 and November 8, 2011.

The court had previously heard Miller took over as treasurer at the historic non-profit golf club in April 2011 and had “casual” conversations with committee members about investing club funds.

But after six months it became apparent to committee members that the club’s accounts were in the red and that around £4,000 in cash was missing from the golf club’s safe.

Miller was then approached at his home by club captain Arthur Reid to explain where the funds had gone, but Mr Reid told the court the 36-year-old treasurer “locked himself in his bedroom and wouldn’t talk to us”.

After the bizarre meeting, Mr Reid was so concerned for Miller’s mental state he went straight to a local police station to report the matter.

Mr Reid, 55, had told the court: “Mr Miller was nominated [for the position of treasurer] as we knew he was a financial advisor with HSBC. He said casually that he could make money for the club by investing.

“But [in November 2011] I identified some things were amiss and on that date we went to Mr Miller’s house. I was concerned about his state of health as he locked himself in his bedroom and wouldn’t talk to us.

“He was very defensive and agitated and gave us no reasonable explanation to what was going on. He was not very coherent and we didn’t get any coherent answers to where the money was.”

Mr Reid had also said he was subsequently forced to pay thousands of pounds of his own money into the club’s account just to keep the non-profit sporting organisation afloat.

The club captain said Miller had informed him he had made around “20 investments” in the name of the Royal Musselburgh club and all the maturities would be paid into his own account and he would then transfer it into the golf club’s account.

But after several discussions with the club’s Royal Bank of Scotland manager Mr Reid said it had become apparent “there had been no investments”.

And during his testimony, former treasurer Stanley Love had informed the court he had been told Miller had been nominated for the “trusted position” of treasurer as he was a “financial wizard” due to his extensive banking background.

Miller, who was representing himself, refused to give evidence to the court and did not call any defence witnesses.

Sheriff Drummond said: “I am satisfied Mr Miller used his position as treasurer to write out cheques in his own favour to gain access to the cash which was available.

“The only person who would be able to tell us about the investments is the accused and he has elected not to give evidence.

“I am satisfied the evidence is sufficient to establish embezzlement in the sum of £11,000, or thereby. I therefore find Mr Miller guilty of embezzlement of the sum of £11,000 or thereby.”

Sheriff Drummond deferred sentence for the preparation of a social work and psychiatric reports to October.

The Royal Musselburgh Golf Club is the fifth oldest in the world and prides itself in holding the competition for the oldest golf trophy still competitively played for in the world – the Old Club Cup – which dates back to 1774.

The Royal Musselburgh was given its royal patronage in 1876, and the grounds continue to be owned by the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation.