Aspatria music festival thief given suspended jail term

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Matthew Turnbull
Image caption,
Matthew Turnbull was sentenced to 12 months in jail suspended for two years

A music festival committee member who stole £13,380 from the charity fundraiser has been sentenced.

Matthew Turnbull, 28, emptied the Aspatria festival's account while under the influence of drink and drugs to fund an online gambling habit, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

The Cumbrian festival organisers said they felt betrayed by the theft.

Turnbull was sentenced to 12 months suspended for two years after admitting theft.

Committee members found the account was empty in the late summer of 2020 and linked it to Turnbull, of St Mungo's Park, Aspatria, who had access as a trustee.

Prosecutor Charles Brown said: "The charity has been going through difficulties because, obviously, music events have been impossible to put on during the pandemic, and the theft of this money from them has caused further difficulties, exacerbated their difficulties, and led to something of a loss of confidence amongst their local business sponsors."

The court heard the Cumberland Bank had repaid the money stolen by Turnbull, who was described as being "extremely ashamed and remorseful" for his thievery.

'Shock and betrayal'

Judge Nicholas Barker heard Turnbull had taken steps to address alcohol, drug and gambling issues, and cared for his mother.

The judge ordered Turnbull to also complete 250 hours' unpaid work and a rehabilitation requirement.

The music festival, formerly known as Sealy Spyatstock, is an annual three-day, 1,500-capacity event held in the grounds of Aspatria Rugby Club to raise money for charities.

A statement released by festival organisers Turnbull entered his guilty plea in front of magistrates last month said: "We as a committee have felt shock, betrayal and huge disappointment.

"We do not condone this behaviour and would like to publicly announce that Matthew has not been a part of the committee since we discovered the money had been stolen."

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