A former charity worker has been jailed after admitting stealing more than £260,000 from his employers, the humanitarian charity Article 25.
Scott Golding, 47, of no fixed address, was last week sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court in north-east London to four years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to using the charity’s money to pay for designer goods and rent.
The charity, which provides housing and shelter in disaster zones, said the fraud almost caused it to close after it was left with just £611 in its account. It was only saved by members of the architectural and construction industry who stepped in to provide emergency funds, the charity said.
Golding joined the charity to look after its accounts in 2013 after being released from a six-month prison sentence for stealing £9,500 from the Bristol children’s hospital charity, Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal.
Golding used his middle name, William, during the 18 months he worked for the charity, and presented the charity’s senior management with fictitious accounts which portrayed a healthy picture.
In reality Golding had been stealing £260,479 from the account by paying himself an inflated salary and bonuses, paying his rent from the charity's bank account and using the charity’s bank cards pay to for goods from stores including Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Prada and Harrods, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
The fraud came to light in July when the charity’s bank contacted it to say there was not enough money in the account to cover a credit card bill. The same day, Golding sent a text to a colleague saying he would not be in work that day and never returned, according to police.
On 13 July, Golding went to a police station in Bournemouth and was arrested and charged with the fraud.
Sunand Prasad, chair of Article 25, said: "With William Golding’s imprisonment, it is good to see that justice has been done.
"However, the sentence that has been handed down cannot itself repair the damage that has been done to a highly respected charity. Golding worked systematically, forging documents, and defrauding Article 25 of vital funds.
"He won and then callously abused the personal trust of his colleagues who worked alongside him on a daily basis."
She said the charity was grateful for the emergency funds pledged by the architecture and building industry.
She said: "It will take a while to return Article 25 to the position of financial stability that we once had, but thanks to the efforts of our team, our trustees and our supporters, we are fully operational, working with vulnerable communities round the world who need our skills."
Detective Sergeant Richard George, who investigated the fraud, described Golding’s actions as a "despicable crime".
He said: "By pleading guilty, Golding did not put his previous employers through the ordeal of a court case but this fraud will have had a significant impact on the work the charity could have carried out."
Golding was convicted of fraud by abuse of position and false accounting.
Nasreen Yadallee, reviewing lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service London, said: "Scott Golding cruelly abused the trust of his employers at the charity purely to satisfy his own greed.
"Golding's callous actions almost caused the collapse of the charity, which has done so much good work around the world.
"Golding has now been brought to justice for his deception and we will be using the Proceeds of Crime Act to retrieve the money he stole."
A Charity Commission spokesman said the commission had met trustees of the charity after they reported the fraud.
"The trustees did the right thing in reporting the matter to the commission," he said. "The charity was not aware of the previous conviction and was a victim of serious fraud."