Charity accountant jailed for stealing more than £500,000

Brendan Joyce received a three-year sentence at Bristol Crown Court for defrauding Education Centre Management Limited of £562,000

Bristol Crown Court
Bristol Crown Court

An accountant has been sentenced to three years imprisonment after he admitted to stealing more than £500,000 from his employers, a subsidiary of a hospital fundraising charity.

Brendan Joyce managed the accounts of Education Centre Management Limited, a subsidiary company of the charity Above And Beyond, which raises funds for hospitals in Bristol.

At Bristol Crown Court on Friday, Joyce admitted defrauding ECM of £562,000 during the last five years of his 17-year career at the company.

The court heard that Joyce forged the signatures on nearly 700 cheques and created fictional invoices for work that was never carried out.

Joyce, of Lodway Road, Bristol, used the money to fund a car collection, amassing more than 100 vehicles and storing them in lock-up garages around Bristol.

During its investigation, police traced 107 vehicles to 80 lock-ups in Bristol, including two vintage Morris Minors and two funeral limousines.

He was sentenced to three years for five offences of fraud by abuse of position.

Sarah Talbot-Williams, chief executive of Above And Beyond, said the charity had strict financial controls in place, but Joyce had abused his position of trust to circumvent them.

She also criticised The Co-operative Bank, which holds its accounts, for failing to detect the fraud.

"We are deeply shocked and saddened to find ourselves the victim of this situation," she added. "We have also been let down by our bank, which failed to deliver the service and security that it had been contracted for."

The Co-operative Bank said it took fraud "extremely seriously" and that it had assisted police in the investigation.

A spokeswoman for Above And Beyond said ECM intended to pursue a legal claim against the bank, but declined to give further details.

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