Chairman who defrauded amateur dramatics group is spared prison

Robert Waple, former chairman of Thetford Players
Robert Waple, former chairman of Thetford Players

The former chairman of amateur dramatics group The Thetford Players has avoided a prison term after defrauding the group out of more than £7,000.

Robert Waple, 40, was sentenced to nine months in prison suspended for two years at Norwich Crown Court on Monday.

He was also told to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and pay a £100 victim surcharge.

Waple, of St Michael’s Close, Thetford, had pleaded guilty to using a position of authority to commit fraud at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court in July.

In total he defrauded the group of £7,394 including £1,000 intended for East Anglian Children’s Hospice.

In July Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court heard that Waple had failed to pay money raised through ticket and clothing sales as well as charity events into the group’s account.

His crime came to light in March this year after members of The Thetford Players called an emergency meeting.

Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court heard that when confronted by members Waple had broken down and offered to repay the money when he found employment.

Chairman of The Thetford Players, Joanne Cooper, said: “Ultimately we are just glad the whole case is over really it has been a very long time between March and now we’re glad it’s come to an end.

“We think the sentence was appropriate - it recognised the level of breach of trust the offence involved.”

The money Waple defrauded the group out of has been repaid and Ms Cooper said measures had been put in place to secure the group’s finances.

She said: “We are still going from strength to strength still growing as a group continuing to put on shows and doing what we do best.”