‘Despicable’ couple who stole thousands from Southport Children’s Football Club spent money on overseas holiday

A Southport couple who ran community football for children have been convicted after keeping tens of thousands of pounds for themselves.

Michelle Marshall, 42, and Simon Marshall, 47, both of Alma Road, Birkdale, successfully bid for £75,000 which had already been seized from criminals by police under the Proceeds of the Market Act crime. Their fraudulent methods were exposed when it was discovered that the only thing they spent money on was fencing.

The pair spent £5,000 on fencing while dressing rooms and other equipment promised for the club were never bought. When asked for proof of work in progress as part of routine checks on project progress, fake receipts were presented instead.

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An additional subscription fee of £31,695.31 paid by parents and guardians of children who played football at the club between 1 December 2016 and 8 November 2019 was also not accrued following the launch of a thorough investigation. The Marshalls were subsequently arrested in March 2020 and, following extensive investigations, were charged in March 2021 with theft and fraud by abuse of position.

Appearing at Liverpool Crown Court today, Michelle Marshall was jailed for two and a half years and Simon Marshall received a 15 month sentence, suspended for 18 months with a requirement for rehabilitation. He was also sentenced to perform 200 hours of unpaid work.

Our Community Cashback Fund was created to reinvest money from criminals back into our communities. He helped create community gardens, keep boxing clubs open, community centers and educate young people about knife crime.

The fund is now run by an independent charity with extensive experience in managing the provision of finance. As part of regular reviews of the scheme, the application process now awards a maximum of £5,000 per project and has been improved with strict measures to monitor the development of projects and with improved checks in place to ensure that all donated money is spent properly.

Detective Constable Louise Wright said: ‘The actions of the Marshalls were truly despicable. Parents and guardians of young children donated money in good faith for the development of their children’s football skills. But the Marshalls selfishly spent that money on themselves – on vacations abroad, as well as shopping and rent.

“Money which was seized from criminals through the dedicated work of officers and staff here at Merseyside Police was supplied to the Marshalls under a contract to provide a youth facility in Southport. Instead, they brazenly spent that money on themselves, robbing the community of what could have been a brilliant facility after raising the hopes of so many in Southport.

“The scale of their deception was staggering. They ruthlessly exploited the will of parents to provide for their children and lied to the police about their intentions to provide a useful community facility, all for their own financial gain. We We welcome the fact that Michelle Marshall will now have time in jail to reflect on the impact of her actions, and the disappointment and pain this fraud has caused so many.

“I know the wider community will share our anger at the dishonesty of Michelle and Simon Marshall, and I hope to be reassured that Merseyside Police have carried out a thorough investigation to uncover all their offenses and bring them to justice. today.”

The club is now run by Paul Mullan who now works as joint club secretary alongside fellow club secretary Ben Minto and club chairman Alan McCoombe. They invited affected children and young people to help rebrand the club Southport Athletic, with a new badge and club kits, and the club moved to Ferryside Lane.

Paul said: “The Marshalls have failed 130 children, their families and the community. It’s not fair, it’s not fair and whatever punishment they received would not have fully reflected the damage they caused and the people they affected.

“They raised hopes that young people would have a community facility that we were all looking forward to using.

“I am very happy that we have been able to offer the 130 children involved a new club, so that the teams that have been together for years can stay together, and that we have been able to expand the club to include even more young people, with 180 now in our ranks.

“We have been able to find other sources of investment in order to provide new kits, equipment, clothing and even a defibrillator and I am confident that we will get better and better and will one day create the facility that was promised to us. “

Det Con Wright added: “Our Community Reimbursement Fund uses money and assets seized from criminals through the Proceeds of Crime Act and reinvests them in communities to help provide vital resources and fund projects. communities in Merseyside.

“The overwhelming majority of recipients have done incredible things at the heart of Merseyside communities, and the actions of the Marshalls have not dented our ambition to continue the program so that the money earned by criminals can be put to very good use. wisely.

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“Its goal is to build community resilience by supporting local clubs and groups, which in turn help reduce crime and anti-social behavior, promote diversionary activities and support vulnerable members of the community. Unlike the Marshalls’ selfish actions, the other organizations that have benefited have extraordinarily selfless, community-minded people at their hearts and we look forward to helping them achieve their goals for years to come.

“It’s great to know that a new football club has emerged from the damage caused by the Marshalls, under new management and with a new name, so that the young people of Southport once again have a place where they can enjoy playing and develop their skills.”

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