A FORMER North Yorkshire mayor accused of pocketing money from an ice-cream vendor meant for the council has denied ever being handed the cash.

Andrew Williams, 44, appeared at York Crown Court yesterday, accused of failing to hand over £220 commission from ice-cream van vendor C&M Ices during Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Ripon in 2012.

Mr Williams, who at the time was mayor of Ripon, denied he was ever handed any money as he helped at the community event.

The court heard how Mr Williams had set up a working group to mark the Olympics and Queen’s Diamond jubilee as he wanted the city to “seize the initiative”.

On June 4 he spent the day helping run the jubilee celebrations. Defence solicitor Alasdair Campbell asked Mr Williams: “At any stage during the course of June 4 did you receive any money?”

“Absolutely, categorically not,” he replied.

The court heard Mr Williams, who denies fraud, was practice manager of a family law firm. He received a generous salary and in addition received an annual bonus which usually amounted to about £5,000. He also received an annual allowance of £4,000 for being a Harrogate Borough Councillor and £8,000 for being a North Yorkshire County Councillor.

But Mr Williams, of Pine View, Locker Lane, Ripon, had a gambling habit and placed frequent bets online and at bookies.

The jury were shown his bank statements, which showed payments to betting companies and loans from payday loan companies when his bank balance approached zero.

Prosecutor David McGonigal questioned Mr Williams on his financial situation around the time of the jubilee and whether he felt under financial pressure.

Mr Williams said: “If I had wanted a couple of hundred quid I was perfectly capable of obtaining funds. ”

The court heard how Detective Sergeant Hannah Wright, from North Yorkshire Police, had searched his home after arresting him and found a cashier’s money bag in the pocket of a coat, along with betting shop receipts and cards, including the business card of the ice-cream vendor.

Mr Williams said he had been given the business card when he bought an ice-cream during the celebrations.

Mr McGonigal quoted council minutes from November where Mr Williams told councillors he “was still trying to trace the money” from the ice-cream vendor.

Mr McGonigal asked him at what stage he realised he had the ice cream vendor’s contact details on a business card at his home.

Mr Williams said his statement referred to the fact he was trying to trace the terms of agreement made with the ice cream vendor over commission before he could start asking him for money.

The trial continues.