Ex-treasurer stole £64,000

Former Kingston Association for the Blind employee pleads guilty to theft

The former treasurer of a charity for visually impaired people has admitted stealing almost £64,000 from the organisation over a period of eight years.

Keith Brown, 69, of Leatherhead in Surrey, pleaded guilty in Kingston Crown Court to stealing a total of £63,918.80 from Kingston Association for the Blind.

Brown, who worked for the charity for 20 years, stole the money by writing cheques to himself from the charity's account.

Jonathan Cooper, chairman of Kingston Association for the Blind, said the thefts were discovered in March 2008 after one organisation did not receive a payment it was due, prompting him to examine the charity's finances in more detail. Brown admitted he was responsible for the theft after Cooper confronted him.

"I was completely surprised," said Cooper. "I knew him for 15 years while I was involved with the association and he had been trusted all that time. This is money that people donated specifically to help the visually impaired. For him to use his position to steal it like that is beyond the pale."

Cooper said the total amount stolen could be more than £64,000 because the charity's banking records were imprecise before 2003.

However, he said he was confident it would not happen again because the new treasurer would not be responsible for day-to-day transactions and all finances would be recorded on a computerised system.

The Charity Commission said it was unsure whether it would launch a formal enquiry into the theft.

"We were made aware of the issue by the charity and have been monitoring the outcome of the police enquiries," a commission spokeswoman said. "No formal inquiry has been opened, but we have been working with the charity to ensure they are able to operate on a secure footing."

Brown will be sentenced on 31 March.

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