Man jailed for charity theft
8:50am Friday 6th September 2013 in Latest News
A MAN who stole nearly £1m from children's cancer charities, including one he set up to help his own son, was jailed for five years today.
Kevin Wright was convicted of 10 counts of theft and two of fraud by false representation at an earlier hearing at Nottingham Crown Court.
Jurors heard that significant sums of money were donated to the appeals Wright set up including one to help Swindon boy Callum Kaye, but that little of the cash went towards treatment.
Instead the money was spent on covering the charity overheads and funding Wright's “interests, investments and personal lifestyle”.
Sentencing the 50-year-old at Nottingham Crown Court, Judge Gregory Dickinson said: “I believe you have a genuine desire to help families in the same position – however that does not fully explain your actions.”
The judge added that most of the money went on running the appeals and to fund Wright’s lifestyle.
Mr Dickinson added: “You abused the generosity of the public. Your actions risked damaging the confidence in the system of charitable giving.”
The court heard that Wright set up a string of appeals following the success of charities established to help his own son, Bobby.
Wright set up Bobby's Fund and The Bobby Wright Cancer Fighting Fund after his son, then aged three, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, neuroblastoma, in April 2005.
The money was to be used to treat Bobby at a specialist centre in the US but, when it was decided the youngster no longer needed treatment, Wright turned his attention to helping raise money for other children with cancer.
The judge said it was these appeals set up for Callum, Armani Mohammad and Jessica Magnus which were “fraudulent from the outset”.
Wright told the public the money raised would be used to treat the youngsters at a specialist centre in New York.
However none of the children was treated at the Sloane Kettering Memorial Cancer Centre and little of the money raised was spent on their treatment.
Callum, who had a brain tumour, needed to raise approximately £300,000 for treatment.
The court heard that Wright, formerly of Kenn, near Exeter, Devon, stole a total of £171,500 from the Bobby Wright Cancer Fighting Fund, including donations of £60,000 made by charities Caudwell Children and Janet Nash.
He also took more than £749,340 from the three appeals he set up to raise money for Callum, Armani and Jessica.
The court had heard that Wright had previous convictions, including for theft and forgery. Wright will serve half of his sentence before being released on licence.