The founder of a children’s cancer charity has been jailed for 20 months after being convicted of defrauding the organisation of more than £200,000.
Colin Nesbitt, 60, of Bingley, West Yorkshire, and founder and former director of the now-defunct charity Little Heroes Cancer Trust, stole £87,000 from the charity and transferred a further £181,000 into a bank account in his name between July 2014 and May 2015.
Nesbitt, who was found guilty in March of four counts of fraud by abuse of position and one count of theft, was sentenced last week at Bradford Crown Court to 20 months in prison.
West Yorkshire Police said Nesbitt fraudulently transferred money from the charity's accounts, loaning people charity money and providing the Charity Commission with false or misleading information.
The charity was set up to help children suffering with cancer and to provide support to their families. It made activity books for children in hospitals and donated toys to children’s cancer hospitals.
It accepted funding from the public and received a £100,000 donation following an appearance on the Channel 4 programme The Secret Millionaire.
The Charity Commission said it first identified and reported concerns about the charity’s finances to the police in 2015, which led to Nesbitt’s arrest.
The Little Heroes Cancer Trust was removed from the charity register in 2018.
While some of the funds were recovered by the police, a separate proceeds of crime hearing, to determine what should happen to these funds, is scheduled for December.
During sentencing, Judge Gibson said the defendant “betrayed the public and the public confidence in this charity and the charity sector”.
Tim Hopkins, assistant director for investigations and inquiries at the Charity Commission, said Nesbitt’s actions were “devastating” to the charity.
He said: “The money the public generously donated to Little Heroes Cancer Trust was intended to make a crucial difference to children and their families, and we understand why those who supported this charity will also feel let down by his actions.”