Former mayor faces jail over ice cream fraud
A FORMER Mayor who pocketed an ice-cream man’s takings faces jail because he “brought disgrace” on the office, York Crown Court heard.
Andrew Williams was wearing the mayoral chain of office during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Ripon on June 4, 2012, when he received and kept takings that should have gone into the council’s coffers.
He had been the city’s youngest ever mayor in 2007/8, was again mayor in 2012-13 and has been a city councillor for 21 years. He was also a district and county councillor until recently.
Williams, 43, of Locker Lane, Ripon, denied fraud but was convicted unanimously by a jury after three hours of deliberation.
Judge Guy Kearl QC told him: “At the time you committed this offence, you held an honourable, distinguished and respected office, namely, that you were Mayor of Ripon. What you have done, in my view, has brought disgrace upon the position which you occupied.”
He said the gross breach of trust made a prison sentence likely.
He adjourned sentencing until August 5 while probation officers prepare a report on Williams.
Several Ripon city councillors gave evidence at the week-long trial including Councillor Stuart Martin, who saw ice cream vendor John Taylor, of C & M Ices of Harrogate, hand £220 in cash to Williams during the Jubilee celebrations. It was the council’s share of his takings from the event on June 4, 2012.
When he realised the mayor had not put the money in the council’s bank account, Cllr Martin repeatedly gave Williams the chance to do so without making the theft public. At several council meetings that summer and autumn, Williams claimed he was chasing the ice cream vendor to pay up. After six months, with the money still not in the bank account, Cllr Martin went to the police.
In 2012, Williams had £12,000 in councillor allowances from Harrogate borough and North Yorkshire county councils, and was practice manager of a family law firm on a good salary with an annual bonus that could reach £5,000.
He was also a gambler, who in 2012 was placing bets of more than £500 a time, had run up total debts of more than £17,000, used payday loan companies, and, unknown to the jury, had a criminal record.