Disgraced snooker player Stephen Lee has pleaded guilty to fraud after selling his personal cue to a Facebook fan for £1,600 and failing to post it to Hong Kong.
Lee, who was once ranked fifth in the world for the sport, was banned from snooker for 12 years for match fixing and failed to overturn the bar earlier this month.
The 39-year-old, from Trowbridge in Wiltshire, must pay fines totalling £1,815 after admitting fraud at Swindon Magistrates’ Court.
The court heard Lee agreed to sell his personal cue, a John Parris Ultimate, to Marco Fai Pak Shek, a fan based in Hong Kong, through Facebook.
Mr Shek paid the £1,600 into a bank account belonging to Lee’s wife but the cue was never sent and Lee continued to use it.
The player insisted he intended to post it but was distracted by “a number of difficulties in his professional life”.
After a long legal battle to overturn his snooker ban, he was ordered to pay £125,000 in costs when his bid failed earlier in June.
The court heard that after Mr Shek complained to the police when the cue did not arrive in January, Lee sent him victim an email promising to “personally deliver” it to Hong Kong.
The email read: “If you want the cue, you need to drop the charges and I will sign some pictures for you.”
Mr Shek refused to drop the charges and the case against Lee, who has no previous convictions, continued.
After he admitted fraud by false representation, he was fined £110 and told to pay Mr Shek £1,600 in compensation, along with £85 costs and a £20 victim surcharge on Monday.
John Fryer, chairman 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.”
The court heard he could not pay the total amount immediately and was living on benefits because of his ban from snooker.
A tribunal last year found him guilty of fixing seven games in 2008 and 2009.
Representing Lee, Mark Glendenning said his client had repeatedly apologised to Mr Shek for failing to send the cue.
Mr Glendenning said Lee had previously sold items to fans through his Facebook page “without incident”.
A message appeared on Lee's Facebook page stating that he was “gutted”.
The message read: “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.....”
Additional reporting by PAReuse content