A FORMER top Tory’s political career was today in ruins after he confessed to stealing more than £6,000 from his employer.
Jonjo MacNamara enjoyed a high-profile position in local politics, sitting as a councillor in North Tyneside, helping to spearhead his party’s drive for an elected mayor in Newcastle, and bidding to become an MP.
But the 33-year-old was dismissed as North East regional director with the Royal Institute of British Architects just weeks before he was due to contest a seat on Newcastle Council last May.
Police had begun an investigation into claims MacNamara had been stealing from the institute over a year-long period.
Now his downfall could end with him behind the bars of a prison cell after he pleaded guilty to theft before Newcastle Crown Court.
His barrister Michael Hodson said “This is a case with some considerable background and indeed mitigation. But the defendant is well aware that a sentence of imprisonment for this breach of trust may be what is in the court’s mind.”
Judge Brian Forster adjourned sentence for a report to be prepared by a probation officer until the week of March 18.
MacNamara, who lived in Jesmond, Newcastle, before moving out of the area to Richmond, North Yorkshire, was further remanded on unconditional bail.
A medical report is also expected to be prepared for the sentencing hearing.
Mr Hodson said: “After a long conference with the defendant I have discerned that there is a psychological issue to be dealt with as well and a doctor is to be instructed.”
MacNamara spoke only to answer his name and enter his guilty plea from the dock during the brief hearing. He admitted stealing £6,743 in cash from the RIBA between December 2010 and July last year.
Reports at the time of his dismissal after a formal disciplinary procedure had put the amount at about £10,000.
Full details of MacNamara’s offending will be revealed at the sentencing hearing.
Mr Hodson said “The way the figure is made up is not easily discerned from the papers.
“I have asked the prosecution for further and better particulars on the indictment.”
MacNamara quit the Conservatives just days before he was due to challenge for the South Jesmond seat in council elections last May.
He had represented the Cullercoats ward on North Tyneside Council from 2006 to 2010 and was the Tories’ spokesman when the party campaigned for an elected mayor in Newcastle.
MacNamara also made a bid to become the Conservative candidate for the Hexham parliamentary constituency but lost out to Guy Opperman, who won the seat in 2010.
I have asked the prosecution for further and better particulars on the indictment