Ocean Reef Sea Sports Club former manager St John O’Neill convicted of stealing over $100k from club

Former Ocean Reef Sea Sports Club manager St John O’Neill has been charged with violating his employer’s trust by stealing more than $100,000 from the club in nearly three years.

The 34-year-old was sentenced on Tuesday by a court to a year and ten months in prison after pleading guilty to stealing $145,861.70 from the club between April 25, 2018, and January 31, 2021, by manually returning the sale of pitchers of beer. To spin. And keep the money.

The prosecutor said O’Neill went to work on February 1, 2021, and advised administrative staff that he was “aware of any discrepancies with the banking system from the previous week and would resolve the issues himself,” which is not part of his work.

Before O’Neill conducted his investigation, however, the staff member in charge of banking processing had already printed out reports showing what needed to be banked for the week.


When O’Neill returned to the bank with his set of printed reports, the employee saw a difference of $2,019.20.

The prosecutor said O’Neill told administrative staff that he had “taken money from the bank for waste and use”, but this aroused suspicion.

A text message from the administrative staff discussing the discrepancies was sent to O’Neill.

Three days later, O’Neill admitted to stealing money from the club and returned $85,400 in cash he had at home. He also resigned, with the club agreeing to deduct his leave entitlements, which amounted to an additional $12,027.52, which was repaid.

It was later discovered that O’Neill, a bar manager, started stealing from the club in April 2018 – two months before he was promoted to the club manager.

While Judge Mara Barone acknowledged the club had not been financially devastated by the crime, she said it was more the emotional impact on the volunteers and was done “in a position of trust”.

“It’s more personal than if it had been a larger, anonymous organization,” she said.

“The smaller it is, the more you interact with real people like the members, the more personally they feel offended by the breakup.

“It’s the money spent by the club members on beer at the club where they expect the money to go back into their organization’s non-profit support.”

Ms. Barone said places like Ocean Reef Sea Sports Club are close-knit social clubs many consider family.

“And by committing these kinds of violations, it goes to the heart of that trust and constitutes a gross breach of trust, not just once or twice, but repeatedly,” she said.

“This wasn’t overly sophisticated, but it seems like it wasn’t necessary because that shows how much trust they had in you and how vulnerable organizations like these kinds of clubs are to theft from people in their organizations.”

Ocean Reef Sea Sports Club’s former manager pleads guilty to stealing money from the club.

Ms. Barone said this was why WA took these crimes so seriously, carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

“People need to learn that they can’t violate the trust of those who trust them in a work situation to improve their own lives or to feel safer,” she said.

Ms. Barone said there were periods when there was no violation, but there were others when it was “persistent”.

She also said that O’Neill, who has remained employed elsewhere since his arrest, was “shocked” when he was told he had stolen more than $145,000, an estimated $90,000.

“I’ve been told you’re not someone who has a gambling or drug addiction or who finances an expensive lifestyle, and it doesn’t seem like you can try to explain why this happened,” Ms. Barone said.

O’Neill’s lawyer acknowledged that his client could face jail time due to the seriousness of the crime and the need to send a strong message to the community that it was not tolerated, but argued that there was “room for the moderation of the sentence”.

He said O’Neill came to court with a good character and no criminal record and that he “came to his senses, succumbed to his guilt, and ended up getting into trouble himself”.

“The only reason he can think of is that he was feeling financially unstable, and so this was an attempt to address those feelings,” he said.

He said that O’Neill had young children and that he came from an “unprivileged” childhood in South Africa with little money and “a lot of exercises”.

“I wonder if that played a part in how he was thinking at the time,” his lawyer said.

He also said the onset of COVID-19 played a role in continuing to offend him.

In pronouncing her sentence, Ms. Barone said it should reflect the need to punish the “inherent breach of trust” and the amount of money stolen over a long period.

However, she also acknowledged that O’Neill had repented by sending a letter of apology to the club and repaying an additional $6,000 through victim-offender mediation.

O’Neill was eligible for parole in 11 months and was ordered to repay the remaining $42,434.18 to the club.

John D.Mayne
I love to write. When I wasn’t writing for my school newspaper or college blog, I was writing personal essays and journal entries. Then I discovered I loved to write. In college, I wrote for my school paper and my campus radio show. I started doing freelance writing for the Huffington Post in 2009. Then, I joined the team at Newsmyth as a writer/editor. Now, I spend most of my time writing for Newsmyth and as a guest blogger on a handful of other blogs. When I’m not writing, I like to read, travel, cook, and spend time with friends.