Ex-league boss avoids prison
FORMER rugby league boss Ross James Hardy "stuffed up'' when he stole more than $5000 to pay for family holidays and clear personal debts.
Yesterday, the former Queensland Rugby League Central Division executive officer sidestepped time in jail.
"I know I've been an idiot,'' Hardy, 49, said when he admitted his fraud to his QRL boss in November 2003.
Rockhampton District Court yesterday heard Hardy splurged $5542 from QRL coffers to pay for "luxury items'' he wouldn't otherwise have been able to afford.
He was sentenced to an 18month wholly-suspended jail term and ordered to undertake 100 hours community service.
Crown prosecutor Justin Whalley said Hardy committed the offences between November 2002 and April 2003.
On five separate occasions he either used a QRL credit card for personal use or drew a cheque on the organisation's bank account.
Three times withdrawals were made for trips on the Gold Coast, while the other two times involved signing off on cheques from the QRL to pay the credit on his American Express Card and repair work to his car.
In November, 2003, he owned up to his QRL bosses.
"I've made some incorrect payments with the credit card while holidaying with my family at the Gold Coast,'' Mr Hardy told them.
After offering his immediate resignation, the issue was considered at a QRL board meeting at which the resignation accepted.
"That's OK. I know I have been an idiot,'' he said. Hardy's defence barrister Jeff Clarke said his client was ashamed and embarrassed by his actions.
"Otherwise he has led a blameless life,'' Mr Clarke said. Hardy had repaid the QRL in full.
In sentencing, Judge Ryrie said Hardy was "clearly a man of good character'' and these actions had placed a "blemish against that character''.
Hardy had pleaded guilty to one count of stealing as a servant and a string of fraud charges as an employee.