A MOTHER and son have just three months to find £113,000 stolen from a Bolton social club before a judge decides whether to send them to jail.

Bolton Crown Court heard how 66-year-old Barbara Hare, the trusted and long-standing treasurer at Dunscar Conservative Club, siphoned a total of £132,490 from the historic club’s bank account into her own account or those belonging to her 35-year-old son Steven Hare.

But Lindsay Thomas, prosecuting, told the court that, despite Barbara Hare admitting theft and producing false accounts and her son pleading guilty to money laundering, what they did with the money belonging to the 121-year-old club remains a mystery.

The court heard that Barbara Hare’s involvement with the club dates back 40 years, becoming treasurer in 1989 and being appointed one of the organisation’s three trustees in 2008.

She was a signatory on the club’s Santander bank account, having sole access to its internet banking facility, and each month would prepare reports for the club’s management committee showing healthy balances.

But her crimes came to light after members, believing they had plenty of spare cash, decided to embark upon a £60,000 renovation of the Bromley Cross-based premises.

Last year, when contractors failed to be paid, Hare tried to cover her tracks by claiming there were technical problems with the bank account.

But when Hare failed to attend a meeting, the chairman discovered the club had less than £2,000 left in its Santander account.

Hare subsequently admitted to club officials that she had taken the cash.

“She did not offer any explanation other than she did not want to have her son lose his marriage and his kids,” said Mrs Thomas.

It was found that over a period of five years she had made 52 payments, totalling £36,300 into her own bank account, and 175 payments amounting to £94,950 into accounts belonging to her son.

Barbara Hare refunded £19,080 to the club’s account in 12 payments.

When questioned by police she refused to comment when asked where the money had gone.

A victim statement, written on behalf of club members by David Southern, was read out in court and described the effect of the crime as “traumatic”.

“Initially feelings of disbelief, sadness and the whole gamut of emotions has sadly, for many, turned to anger,” he stated.

“Responsible people continue to lose sleep over this experience and we are working harder than ever to repair the damage done when we should, in fact, be able to relax and enjoy the decades of our achievements.”

Colin Buckle, defending Barbara Hare, said a prison sentence would be an “unmitigated disaster’ for her.

The court heard she and her husband own a property and the Hares’ sentence was adjourned until May 29 following a proceeds of crime hearing on May 8.

Judge Timothy Stead said he was giving them time to show that the stolen money was being repaid before deciding what sentence to pass.

“I am not saying settlement of the debt will buy you your freedom, but it may be a factor that weighs in the balance,” he told them.

Barbara and Steven Hare, both of Darwen Road, Egerton, were granted bail in the meantime.