Members support decision to expel Port Macquarie Golf Club life member Keith Heap over historic child prostitution offences

PORT Macquarie Golf Club members have supported a decision by the Board to expel a life member over historic child prostitution offences.

In validating the decision at the club's Annual General Meeting on October 14, members also adopted special resolutions for members working with children.

Mr Heap was captain of the Port Macquarie Golf Club between 2008-2013 and was made a life member in 2014.

He was convicted of "historical child prostitution offences" in Port Macquarie Local Court on January 28, 1998.

Mr Heap pleaded guilty to the charges on the basis he did not know of the provision that it was an offence to participate with a client in an act of sex if the person was under the age of 18. He was sentenced to 500 hours of community service.

In New South Wales, it is a criminal offence to participate as a client in an act of prostitution with a person under the age of 18.

Judge Viney at the time of sentencing described the former teacher at Port Macquarie High School as being of "exemplary character".

Following the Board's decision in August, a motion was then put forward by member Bryan Stewart and seconded by Don McManus to revoke the expulsion and reinstate Mr Heap's life membership.

In a statement responding to the motion, the chief executive Daniel Constable wrote that the Board held a disciplinary hearing to consider charges, "which included a charge of conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Club".

"The Board considered and respects the long-term contribution of the member to the Club and balanced this against the values of the Board and those of the community in which we operate and wish to continue to operate in," he wrote.

"The Board considered the risk to the Club in not acting upon the matter and determined the conduct was prejudicial to the interests of the Club and proceeded to expel the member.

"The Board in deliberating the charge also considered the attitudes of the community to institutions that stand by silently in regards to such offences and the decision to expel reflects our Club's attitude towards such offences when known to be certain."

I'm absolutely disgusted with the way in which members have been manipulated by the golf club. I don't want to say any more than that.

Keith Heap

Mr Constable said the motion was defeated at the AGM with members confirming the Board had "acted within its powers".

Discussion for and against the motion was heard privately between eligible members before the vote was cast.

"The full details are not open for public disclosure," Mr Constable said.

The Port News contacted Mr Heap who was appalled and distressed by the decision.

"I'm absolutely disgusted with the way in which members have been manipulated by the golf club. I don't want to say any more than that," Mr Heap said.

The members at the meeting also adopted the Board's tabled special resolutions that state any member nominated for election to the Board, or appointed to the Board, must provide a National Police Check and Working with Children clearance.

Additionally, any member appointed to a position on a committee related to minors must provide a Working with Children clearance.

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