Ex-mayor faces jail for £220 ice-cream cash fraud

Andrew Williams
Andrew Williams
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A disgraced former Yorkshire mayor has been warned he could face jail after being convicted of pocketing £220 of takings during a Jubilee gala while in office.

Senior Ripon councillor Andrew Williams, who is the chief executive of a divorce law firm, showed no emotion yesterday as the verdict was announced after a five-day trial and three hours of jury deliberations.

Judge Guy Kearl QC was prepared to deal with Williams immediately but the defence requested the preparation of pre-sentence reports.

The case was adjourned until August 5 at Leeds Crown Court by the judge who – when asked if he was considering custody – replied: “I’m considering it.”

The jury had heard that Williams, 43, had a gambling habit when he pocketed £220 of takings from an ice cream van during celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June 2012.

The prosecution said Williams depended on loans from payday lenders to tide him over while serving as mayor of Ripon.

He had put on a suit and his gold chain of office to hand out prizes on the evening of the town’s Jubilee festivities, York Crown Court was told.

In return for selling ice creams at the event, John Taylor, of Harrogate-based C&M Ices, had struck a deal with the council by email to hand over between 20 and 25 per cent of the day’s takings.

When he cashed up, he reckoned he owed the authority about £220, said prosecutor David McGonigal.

He put the cash in a clear money bag with a couple of his business cards and went wandering around the town’s market square looking for someone from the council to give it to, the jury heard.

Mr Taylor spotted a local councillor, Stuart Martin, and tried to give it to him. But he refused to take it and pointed out Williams, who was standing nearby, Mr McGonigal continued.

Williams, of Pine View, Locker Lane, Ripon, denied one offence of fraud.

But the jury refused to accept his claims that he never received the cash at all.

“Instead of handing that money over to Ripon Council – as he should have done because it was their money – he pocketed it,” Mr McGonigal said.

The court heard the offence came to light after the council’s Jubilee accounting committee noticed the money was missing.

Williams kept claiming he was chasing it up but the matter was reported to police.

In April 2013, an envelope containing £220 in £10 notes was received by the council from an unknown source and was also passed to police, who arrested Williams on June 23.

Williams, who wore a suit, shirt and silk tie throughout the trial, was freed on unconditional bail until he appears in court for sentencing.

The judge described the offence as “a gross breach of trust”.