Malcolm John Blackledge, 41, receives suspended sentence over $15,470.42 theft

A 41-year-old man accused of stealing $15,470.42 from a local sporting club has avoided an immediate jail sentence.

Malcolm John Blackledge pleaded guilty to one count of stealing as a servant on Thursday, September 26.

In the September 26 hearing, the court heard that Blackledge became president of the Bunbury Barbarians Junior Rugby Union Club in 2018.

As president, Blackledge was allowed to use a debit card linked to the club's bank account.

Between December 2018 and June 2019, he used the card about 114 times for personal matters.

The court was also told the 41-year-old used the card on multiple occasions at Melbourne's Crown Casino.

After being arrested in July, Blackledge admitted to committing the offences.

The former president returned to court for sentencing on Monday, November 18.

Represented by defence lawyer Michael Joubert, Blackledge sat quietly as the hearing proceeded.

According to the pre-sentence report, Blackledge had committed no prior offences and was eligible for a community order.

Mr Joubert said his client was of "otherwise extremely good character" and has since paid back the club in full.

The lawyer added that Blackledge was seeking to stay with the club and to make amends.

Applying for a spent conviction, Mr Joubert said Blackledge was deeply remorseful for his actions.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Darren Clifton argued against the possibility of a spent conviction.

Magistrate Belinda Coleman acknowledged that Blackledge had succumbed to a gambling addiction.

Ms Coleman also described his actions as a "serious breach of trust".

"A gambling habit is very difficult to keep under control," she said.

"You were always going to be found out...it was only a matter of time.

"This was a not-for-profit organisation that you stole money from...the impact of stealing from the club could have been quite devastating.

"I am surprised it went on for six months."

As part of his conditional suspended imprisonment order, Blackledge will be required to follow program and supervision requirements.

Ms Coleman urged him to follow his orders and to stay out of trouble.

The maximum penalty for stealing as a servant is 10 years in prison.