A man cannot repay Scouting Ireland the bulk of the €12,308 he stole from them because of a very heavy 60 per day smoking habit that costs him €200 per week, a court was told.

Edward Hartley, 46, of Lismore Park in Waterford city, last year pleaded guilty to six counts of theft from Scouting Ireland between 1September 2013 and 16 June 2014.

The former supervisor, a scouting volunteer who was effectively Treasurer for Scouting Ireland in Waterford, was using funds from the organisation and then writing cheques from his own account to Scouting Ireland in order to fill in the void.

When incoming units arrived in Waterford, they would hand over fees to Hartley for the rental of fields, which in turn would be handed over to Scouting Ireland.

However, Hartley kept these funds for himself on six occasions. Defending Barrister David Bulbulia told Waterford Circuit Court Judge Eugene O’Kelly how "there was a pattern of him taking money from Scouting Ireland and repaying them".

The matter was adjourned from almost 14 months ago in order to allow the then self-employed glazier a chance to repay the sum.

Mr Bulbulia BL, told the court that some €4,000 had been repaid since July 2016, the remainder of the money could not be paid because "he is a very, very heavy smoker who spends €200 per week on cigarettes".  The court heard how Hartley smokes 60 cigarettes per day.

Judge O’Kelly noted that if Hartley had diverted the money spent on cigarettes to repaying his debts, the outstanding €8,308 would have been repaid to Scouting Ireland in the past year. He said that, from now, Hartley can "look at a packet of cigarettes and think of going to prison".

In May 2017, the court heard that Hartley drank ten pints of beer per day and had a serious gambling problem.

The court heard about how he is currently earning €750 per week but has to pay €150 weekly in rent, along with €200 in travelling costs.

Mr Hartley was based at the National Scout Centre in Mount Melleray, high in the Knockmealdown Mountains, at the time of the offences.

Judge O’Kelly added: "Anyone who steals from a charitable organisation, can expect to go to prison.

"I am not prepared to put this on the never-never.  There’s €200 per week that he is smoking."

The judge said: "I expect to see substantial money in court…alternatively, if he is not able to do it, he’ll have to go to prison."

He adjourned the matter to a sitting of the court on 9 October.