Woodhall Spa

A senior official stole thousands of pounds from the body which runs amateur golf in England and created false websites to cover his tracks.

James Woodford, 45, defrauded England Golf, which is based in the quaint Lincolnshire town of Woodhall Spa, by submitting fake invoices.

A court heard Woodford, from Nottingham, successfully obtained £7,400, but checks carried out by the prestigious organisation prevented him taking a further £38,000.

Woodhall Spa is home to the National Golf Centre and English Golf, and was voted the best inland golf course in the UK, and rated 54th in the world.

Woodford, who was employed as head of training and education, was heavily in debt at the time after a business venture failed and resulted in bailiffs chasing him for money.

Stephen Taylor, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that Woodford was authorised to purchase instruction and training materials from outside agencies and because he was trusted checks were only carried out on invoices over £5,000.

“What he did during the course of his employment was to submit a number of false invoices to the organisation’s accounts department with a view to having those false invoices purported to be issued by the companies paid either into an account in his own name or an account in the name of his mother. He had control over her bank account.

“In total he submitted seven false invoices but only on the first two occasions were they processed and payment was actually made.”

James Woodford outside Lincoln Crown Court. | Photo: Stephen Daniels

Woodford prepared and submitted the invoices which purported to be from fictitious suppliers and backed up his deception by creating websites for those firms.

Mr Taylor said: “There was a fair degree of planning that went into this. Both of those were bogus companies.

“Mr Woodford had gone so far as to set up rudimentary websites for those two fictitious companies.

“If anybody checked that there was such a company then a cursory search would bring up a website which showed they existed.”

After successfully receiving payment for the first two invoices Woodford submitted a further four, but these were blocked by a more senior officer of the organisation who was unhappy with the amounts.

“The defendant apologised for the fact that the contracts were deemed to be inappropriate. He said he would get in touch with the companies and cancel their services.”

Woodford was at the time working on a short-term contract as cover for maternity leave having previously worked in a different role for England Golf for 10 years.

He subsequently left his role early but afterwards a further false invoice was found that he had submitted to the Club Managers Association of Europe which was a genuine organisation which England Golf dealt with.

Woodford duplicated a genuine invoice and altered the details of the bank account to which payment was to be made.

The association paid the second invoice but the money went into England Golf’s account rather than Woodford’s.

The association realised they had paid twice for what they believed to be the same invoice and the subsequent investigation led England Golf to contact police resulting in Woodford’s arrest.

Woodford, 45, of Basford, Nottingham, admitted seven charges of fraud by abuse of position. He was given a 16 month jail sentence suspended for two years with 80 hours of unpaid work.

Recorder Stuart Sprawson told him: “I am quite satisfied that you were determined to receive this money.

“In an attempt to cover yourself you set up two dummy websites in the hope that anyone who made inquiries would believe that they were genuine and valid companies.”

Marie Spenwyn, in mitigation, said that Woodford had no previous convictions and was genuinely remorseful.

“The money was put into his account and eaten up by various demands he had at the time such as council tax.

“ There is no evidence of any form of lavish lifestyle. As a result of his offending, he has lost his good character and lost his relationship.

“He is currently on Universal Credit. His efforts to obtain work have been frustrated by the pandemic, but he is optimistic about the future as things start to open up.”

Lincolnshire firefighters based in Woodhall Spa will run over seven miles in their full heavy kit and breathing masks to raise money for charity.

Jake Watson and his colleagues will run from Woodhall Spa Fire Station to the neighbouring station in Horncastle in kit including thick fire protective clothing, heavy fire boots, helmet and gloves.

Around five firefighters are expected to take part in the charity event scheduled to take place at 12pm on Saturday, March 27, subject to government guidelines – make a donation here.

All proceeds will go to The Fire Fighters Charity, who offer specialist, lifelong support for members of the UK fire services community. The charity’s income has fallen significantly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Woodhall Spa is an on-call retained fire station so all its firefighters have other full-time jobs, including commercial pilot Jake. They offer up any time they can to provide emergency cover.

Jake has found himself temporarily out of work due to the pandemic so joined the fire service and is determined to do something to help others in the profession.

Firefighter Jake Watson is based at Woodhall Spa Fire Station.

He said: “The usual types of events held by fire stations such as car washes and raffles cannot go ahead due to the pandemic, so I came up with something different which could be done even with quite strict guidelines.

“We are encouraging local people to help support the firefighters who protect our communities by raising money for a charity which is struggling for donations during these difficult times, yet is always there for firefighters in need.

“We have lots of different skill sets on station, including an agricultural engineer, painter and decorator, electrician, shop manager and more.”

Jubilee Park in Woodhall Spa was subject to vandalism when three male youths threw rocks into the swimming pool, causing over £1,000 of damage.

Between 3.40pm and 4.30pm on Saturday, January 9, CCTV caught three male teenagers ride into Jubilee Park on bikes.

They wandered around the park a few times before taking stones from the sensory garden and throwing them into the swimming pool.

Three teens were caught causing damage to Jubilee Park. | Photo: Jubilee Park Woodhall Spa

The pool was frozen over at the time, but due to the stones at sensory garden weighing around 5-7kgs each, damage was caused to the tiles at the bottom.

The damages have been estimated at over £1,000 by Jubilee Park, with a commercial diver needing to assess the pool before it can safely open again.

Police are investigating this incident and are appealing to find the three boys in question.

Police are now appealing to identify the youths. | Photo: Jubilee Park Woodhall Spa

If you recognise any of the suspects in the CCTV pictures, email PCSO Nicola Stuchfield at [email protected].

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