A former Barnsley Chronicle sports editor who worked at the paper for 25 years lost the job he was 'passionate' about after fraudulently claiming expenses.
Andrew Lodge, 45, of Kendal Vale, Worsbrough Bridge, admitted a charge of fraud by abuse of position in that he dishonestly claimed £447.32 in expenses between August 20, 2011 and October 22, 2011. A second similar charge was dismissed at Barnsley magistrates yesterday.
Prosecutor Hannah Walker said Lodge was sports editor in November 2011 when a new editor, Andrew Harrod, was appointed.
Mr Harrod contacted partners of the newspaper including Barnsley Football Club and asked the then manager Keith Hill about the club's relationship with the paper.
Ms Walker said: "He was told there was no relationship and that Mr Lodge was never seen at Oakwell except when he was boarding the coach to travel to away games."
This worried Mr Harrod in that he knew Lodge had put in mileage claims for travel to games in Cardiff, Milwall, Portsmouth and Reading.
The Chronicle investigated, resulting in Lodge being sacked on November 25 for misconduct.
David Lawson, defending, said had he not travelled on the coach, Lodge could quite legitimately have claimed hotel accommodation, mileage from his home and meals.
Mr Lawson said: "Mr Lodge took over the sports job from his father. His family - father, aunt, uncles - have been involved in the Chronicle for a total of 125 years."
Lodge, a father, was now being supported by his wife and would find it difficult at his time of life, said Mr Lawson, to find work in the media.
"His family are going to pay dearly for his rather stupid mistake," Mr Lawson added.
Lodge was ordered to carry out 60 hours of unpaid work in the community and pay compensation of £447.32 and £85 costs.
District Judge John Foster said: "An employer is entitled to a respectful and honest approach from his employee in relation to claiming expenses but there are features in this case that have struck me. You were employed by the Chronicle for a very substantial period and you clearly were a trusted employee. You were dismissed from an employment that you love, you remain unemployed and your family continue to suffer financially."