Former Imps general manager siphoned money for gambling

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John Vickers took more than £35k from the club’s Imps Birthday Lotto and PayPal accounts to fund his gambling addiction.

Lincoln Crown Court heard how Vickers transferred cash into his own PayPal account on more than 200 occasions over several years.

The fraud only came to light when he was suspended from his position in September 2017 after ignoring requests to hand over access details to the accounts to the club’s chief executive Liam Scully.

Judge Simon Hirst, passing sentence, told Vickers: “This was a fraud perpetrated over a long period of time.

“For some of the time that this took place Lincoln City had dreadful financial difficulties. You taking money from them certainly did not help.”

Vickers worked for the club from 2001 and became general manager around 2010 but was moved to a different role in the summer of 2017 following a review.

As a result Vickers was asked to hand over access details to the two accounts.

Miss Opare-Addo, prosecuting, said: “These were requested on multiple occasions but those requests were ignored. As a result he was suspended on September 16, 2017.

“Following his suspension his mobile phone and laptop were seized and the company was able to obtain access. They discovered the account was empty.

“The defendant had transferred £14,500 into another account. There were a total of 287 transfers. The last transfer was on September 14, 2017.

“Further investigation into the defendant’s own PayPal account revealed that between 2006 and 2017 his account was credited from Lincoln City Football Club to the value of £35,183.”

Miss Opare-Addo added that £3,225 has since been repaid to the club.

As a result of the investigation Vickers was interviewed by police and made admissions.

Vickers, 48, of London Road, Bracebridge Heath, had earlier pleaded guilty to a single charge of fraud by abuse of position relating to the period between January 2006 and September 2017.

Ian Way, in mitigation, said: “Lincoln City Football Club has been a passion and a love of his since his childhood days.

“He could not believe his own good fortune when in 2001 he became a part of the family at the club.

“It is also true to say that the commitments and responsibilities did take a toll on him. It was long hours and a lot of travelling.”

“The root of this is gambling. It is something he became associated with from a very young age.

“Living in a family that managed public houses he found himself with access to slot machines and their use was something that was normal.”

Mr Way said that Vickers initially was able to fund his habit from his own funds but from 2006 began taking from the club.

“There were no Caribbean cruises, no fast cars and no lavish lifestyle. The money was taken to fund a habit.”

He added that, as with many gamblers, Vickers was naively fooled into believing that one day he would be able to pay back the money.

Vickers, he said, has been receiving treatment for depression and stress and has stopped gambling since his arrest.

Vickers, the court was told, has since set up an eBay trading account selling gifts which is doing well and providing him with an income.

“He recognises and fully understands what he has done to the club that he loves. He acknowledges that. I ask you to take that apology he makes as genuine,” said Mr Way.

Vickers has been sentenced to 14 months in prison. Read the club’s reaction to the conviction.