Stephen Lee fined £1,800 for fraud over snooker cue sale
Banned snooker player Stephen Lee was fined £1,815 today after admitting a charge of fraud relating to his personal cue.
Lee, 39, of Birch Gardens, Trowbridge, appeared before magistrates in Swindon to admit a single charge of fraud by false representation.
The court was told Lee, who was once ranked number five in the world, arranged to sell his personal £1,600 snooker cue to a fan through his Facebook page.
But although the man, who is based in Hong Kong, paid the money into Lee's wife's bank account, the cue was never sent - and Lee continued to use it.
Prosecutor Michelle Hewitt told the court that Lee offered his personal snooker cue for sale to the victim, Marco Fai Pak Shek.
"After some negotiations, it was agreed that the victim would pay £1,600 for the defendant's personal snooker cue," Ms Hewitt said.
"Arrangements were made by the defendant and the victim, who is based in Hong Kong.
"Following the arrangements, the victim agreed to pay £1,600 into Mr Lee's wife's bank account, which he did."
Ms Hewitt said Lee agreed to arrange for modifications to be carried out on the cue, before he sent it to Mr Shei.
"But following the transfer of the funds, the defendant failed to send the snooker cue or make any arrangements for the modifications to be carried out as agreed," Ms Hewitt told the court.
"When there was no sign of the snooker cue, a report was made to the police. They carried out an investigation and arrested the defendant.
"The defendant was still using the cue as his own personal property."
Mr Shek made a formal complaint to police on January 24 this year, after the promised John Parris Ultimate cue failed to arrive.
Ms Hewitt said Lee had promised to send the cue along with letters of authenticity from himself and John Parris.
"Mr Shek received an email from the defendant saying he was going to personally deliver it to Hong Kong," Ms Hewitt said.
The email read: "If you want the cue, you need to drop the charges and I will sign some pictures for you," the prosecutor added.
However, Mr Shek refused to drop the charges and the case against Lee, who has no previous convictions, continued.
Representing Lee, Mark Glendenning said his client had repeatedly apologised to Mr Shek for failing to send the cue.
"Mr Lee has a number of fans on his Facebook site and they regularly engage in conversation," Mr Glendenning said.
"He has previously sold things to fans without incident. An arrangement was reached for the sale of Mr Lee's personal snooker cue but it needed some work doing.
"Mr Shek sent the money via bank transfer and Mr Lee fully accepts he received that money."
Mr Glendenning said Lee had made "some efforts" to arrange for work to be carried out on the snooker cue.
"Life took over, Mr Lee found himself embroiled in a number of difficulties which have been much publicised in relation to his career and that took a great deal of his time and energy," Mr Glendenning said.
"He accepts in full he should have sent this cue, the difficulty being with his personal life impacting on his professional life.
"There was an intention to send that cue to Hong Kong but things took over and it didn't get there."
Mr Glendenning said Lee is not working and receives £133 of benefits per fortnight.
John Fryer, chair of the bench, told Lee: "In arriving at our sentence at this matter, we have taken into account a number of things - your previous good character, you have not appeared before the courts before, and we have given you credit for your early guilty plea.
"We also note that you are on benefits and your income is significantly lower."
Lee was fined £110 for the offence and told to pay Mr Shek £1,600 in compensation, along with £85 prosecution costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
Mr Fryer asked Lee if he would be able to pay the total £1,815 to the court following the hearing.
Lee, who was wearing a black jacket, black T-shirt and jeans, replied: "I can't pay that today, no."
Mr Fryer said: "It will be deducted from your benefits on a weekly basis. We will also make a collection order, which means if the payments stop, someone will be knocking on your door."
Lee’s appeal against his 12-year match-fixing ban was dismissed in May leaving him facing a £125,000 bill.
He was ordered to pay the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association £75,000 in costs from the original hearing, £30,000 from the first part of his appeal and a further £20,000 from the second part of his appeal.
Lee refused to comment about the case and his ban as he left court but a message later appeared on his Facebook page, saying: "Well the guilty plead was honest as I took the money from a fan and I new (sic) that I had a plan to be out in hong kong in march to meet with him my self and hand the cue over and have a frame with him..."