A COMMUNITY group’s treasurer embezzled thousands of pounds in vital funds, financially crippling them for years.

Barry Orr took the money and prevented Mummers Theatre Group from staging the full shows they wanted to.

Now, they are speaking out about the hurt caused by one of their own as a sheriff ordered 35-year-old Orr to return to court with the full amount to repay the long-running group.

A spokeswoman for the charity told the Post Orr joined them in 2011, and became treasurer in 2014.

When the previous board was dissolved more than three years ago, the missing funds were noticed.

Orr was asked for financial records, but the charity’s new board noticed some information was missing.

Repeated requests for any paperwork to be returned to them were either ignored or refused, they said.

Orr was originally charged with embezzling more than £10,000 from the group, but pleaded guilty to taking £3,000 between December 1, 2015, and May 17, 2016.

The theatre group told the Post: “This has been a very difficult time for us as a group, dealing with what happened and fundraising to try and fix the challenging financial state we were left in.

“As a result, we’ve been unable to perform as many full shows in the last couple of years as we would like to, as we simply didn’t have the funds to do so.

“The fact that someone we trusted with our finances would choose to do this to us has been very upsetting. But we are relieved that guilt has finally been admitted, and that we can move forward.”

The spokeswoman added: “Our group is hugely important to its members and the community.

“For us, it is not only an important hobby, but a place to establish long lasting relationships and friendships.

“Our Mummers family is very important to us. For the community, groups like ours are essential for bringing theatre to the local community, and raising funds for local charities, as well as our own.”

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At Dumbarton Sheriff Court last week, Sheriff Maxwell Hendry hit out at Orr’s “explanation” given to social workers.

He said: “The explanation is not acceptable to the court. He didn’t borrow money, he embezzled money.”

Orr’s defence solicitor accepted it was a “very serious offence” and that his client recognised that.

He said: “He is lucky to have lived a life that is relatively conviction free.”

The sheriff asked what effort Orr had made to set aside money to compensate the theatre company.

Orr’s lawyer replied: “He didn’t set aside money but he does have an income of £24,000 a year. He can pay £130 a month towards the sum that was embezzled.”

But he admitted that could take 23 months to repay.

Sheriff Hendry hit out: “He knew for years he had committed a crime. He was in employment. He submitted evidence he had £100 per week in free income.

“Why has he not set aside a sum of money? Why does it start now and not two years ago?”

Orr had a “degree of denial, obviously” and stuck his head in the sand, said the solicitor.

After checking with his client, he said Orr thought he could obtain a bank loan to pay the amount in full, and friends who attended with him at court said Orr had the ability to produce the cash.

Sheriff Hendry deferred sentence until October 16 for Orr to bring proof of the money immediately available. “That will assist Mr Orr in the penal element,” he added.

Mummers Theatre Group, who rehearse in Old Kilpatrick and perform at the Denny Civic Theatre, said they hoped they had now turned a corner and were looking forward to their new production of Chicago in November.

The group told the Post: “Thankfully, we have pulled ourselves through this, with amazing support from our fantastic patrons and friends, and we are coming back stronger than ever.

“If anything, this has shown us how strong and how committed our members are, and how much we owe to our loyal followers.

“We are now in a great place, with lots more to come for the Mummers Theatre Group.”