Lancashire charity treasurer jailed for fraud

Victoria Institute
Victoria Institute

The former treasurer of a community charity in Lancashire has been sentenced to 27 months in prison after defrauding it of almost £25,000.

Barbara Dearnley, 62, from Lancaster, took the money from the Victoria Institute, which is run from the village hall in Caton, near Lancaster.

She pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and two counts of false accounting and was sentenced at Preston Crown Court in December.

Lancashire Police said that Dearnley took £24,972 from the charity between July 2011 and May 2015 primarily to pay off debts.

The force added that she also spent the money on Facebook games, car and phone bills, shopping, credit card payments, a plasma TV and a visit to Thorpe Park for her birthday.

The police said that they were aiming for the money to be returned through the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The fraud was discovered after anomalies were found in one of the Victoria Institute’s four bank accounts, Robert Paine, chairman of the Victoria Institute, said in a statement.

"This has been a very trying time for the trustees but I can reassure the community that the other three accounts which contained donations and grants to the institute were untouched," the statement said.

"The trustees have done their upmost to continue as normal to run and improve the institute during this trying time, and will continue to do so and ask for your understanding and continued support."

Detective constable Stephen Dixon said: "Barbara Dearnley fully admitted stealing the money when she spoke to officers.

"Dearnley has shown no remorse during the investigation. She fails to grasp the impact of what she has done and the effect this has on the charity and its members," Dixon said.

"The institute is an important community service and fortunately Dearnley was unable to appropriate money donated by the local community. She was in a position of responsibility and she breached the trust of those she worked with," he added.

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