An elderly High Wycombe volunteer who defrauded almost £62,000 from the Royal British Legion was today jailed for 22 months.

Swindling Ian Whitburn, from Peatey Court, Princes Gate, wrote himself cheques over a period of two-and-a-half years while he served as secretary for the Flackwell Heath RBL Club which helps ex-service men and women.

RBL Clubs are not part of the wider charity and The Royal British Legion has no say in how they are managed.

The 71-year-old spoke only to confirm his name in court as he was imprisoned for almost two years on Tuesday morning by Judge Francis Sheridan, who provided some leniency in his sentencing due to Whitburn's age and a host of medical problems he was suffering from.

Judge Sheridan told the pensioner: "You cannot say that just because you are unwell that normal sentencing guidelines do not apply.

"The public have an interest to see that the abuse of trust is punished. You helped yourself to £62,000 that was not yours. It could have been ruinous for the charity.

"You were writing cheques to yourself for more than two years.

"You were in a position of trust and were trusted by former servicemen and women."

The court heard that Whitburn had written multiple cheques to himself between the dates of May 21 2014 and October 10 2016, which he had signed as himself and forged another's signature.

Stephen Earnshaw, prosecuting at Aylesbury Crown Court, said: "He wrote and cashed cheques from The Royal British Legion to himself.

"He was working on a voluntary basis.

"He was made the signatory of the bank account, alongwith two others who could access the cheque book.

"He resigned from the role in November 2016. Inquiries started soon after and it was found that a large number of cheques had been made where he had written them to himself.

"They had the signature of another of the members who had access to the accounts, but he confirmed that he had not signed the cheques.

"This was a significant abuse of position and trust," said the prosecutor.

Joshua Purser, defending, said: "Mr Whitburn has sold his house and paid back all the money he took from the Legion.

"He was working in a voluntary capacity, this was not a sophisticated fraud.

"Mr Whitburn has a catalogue of health issues and suffered a third heart attack in December last year. He has arthritis in both knees and is currently in the process in having one of his knees replaced.

"It took him 30 minutes to walk from the car park to the courtroom."

White-haired and bespectacled Whitburn admitted one charge of fraud by abuse of position and was sentenced to 22 months in prison.

He remained emotionless in the dock throughout the proceedings and was supported by his wife who sat in the public gallery.