Ex-chair sent down for stealing £50,000

A former trustee has been jailed for two years after being convicted of stealing nearly £50,000 from a Northern Ireland children's charity.

Stuart Collins, then chairman of the Children’s Magic Wand Trust, transferred the money from the charity’s bank account to his own between 2002 and 2003. He admitted five offences of theft and asked for 15 other offences to be considered before being sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court.

The trust was subject to a Charity Commission inquiry in 2003/04 after complaints that it was carrying out street collections without a permit and harassing members of the public. The commission notified the police about possible criminal offences after scrutinising the charity’s accounts. A new board of trustees was then appointed.

Damian Nixon, the new chair of the trust, said: “The charity is back on its feet again, but it’s an ongoing struggle to rebuild confidence with the public.”

The trust, which spends between £20,000 and £30,000 a year on holidays and care for disabled and terminally ill children, has been told that there is no chance of getting the stolen money back.

Nixon said that applications from children had had to be refused because of the financial loss. “Collins was charged with having stolen £50,000, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what he stole,” he said.

The court was told that Collins was suffering from depression and alcohol dependency and had a gambling problem when the offences were committed.


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