John Mohammed, of Field Close, had been volunteer treasurer of the North District Marine Society and Sea Cadets since the 1980s, but in February 2010 started stealing from the group. He was asked in April last year to produce statements for the groups account but failed to send them. The 62-year-old continued to withdraw money until October. He handed himself in to police after he was asked to send a cheque for just over £1,000 for a Sea Cadet Association dinner. Peterborough Crown Court heard on Thursday (March 13) that Mohammed used the money to buy a car, help his sons business while it was in difficulty and to keep his head above water. Tim Brown, prosecuting, said: He said the money taken was in the order of £11,000 but in excess of £21,000 was taken from the cadets. Samantha Marsh, mitigating, said he didnt take the money to live a lavish lifestyle. She added: He told me that the reasons were that his sister-in-law racked up debts on his wifes credit card and his wife was not paid for a year. She retired after she was diagnosed with COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] and he retired in 2010 after he had a stroke, so their income went from £23,000 to living on benefits. They were struggling to keep their heads above water. Sentencing him to two years in prison, Recorder Gregory Perrins told Mohammed: You in effect helped yourself to the cadets funds through bank transfers. It was not sophisticated, but it didnt have to be as you knew you wouldnt be suspected. He added: I have seen a number of letters, all of which speak very highly of you, that you are highly respected and regarded. In my judgement there is a dishonest streak you have to have carried out what you did for a long period of time. Mr Perrins also read out a statement from the cadets, which said the fraud had impacted on the poorest families in the areas of Newham, West Ham and Clapton, affecting the societys ability to put on events.