Former charity chief executive is jailed for £660,000 fraud

Stolen money was spent on an Aston Martin, a villa, and holidays

Cotswold Water Park Trust
Cotswold Water Park Trust

The former chief executive of an environmental charity in Gloucestershire has been jailed after defrauding the organisation of more than £660,000.

Dennis Grant, former chief executive of the Cotswold Water Park Society, was this week sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court to four years and four months’ imprisonment for a series of offences between 2006 and 2009.

Grant, 63, from Banbury in Oxfordshire, pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud and one of "obtaining money transfer by deception".

Grant, who earned £56,000 per year, had opened a personal bank account that he was able to use to pay in cheques that should have gone to the charity.

The money he stole included £100,000 that was supposed to be used to develop a nature reserve and a rowing centre. He spent the money on an Aston Martin car, a villa in Cyprus, holidays and a flat for his daughter.

The charity had an income of £491,243 in the year to the end of July 2008.

The fraud was uncovered by the society’s financial controller, Tasha Flaherty – now operations director at the newly formed Cotswold Water Park Trust – who discovered that only £50,000 of a £150,000 loan made to the society was traceable.

Flaherty asked solicitors for copies of bank transfers and found that £100,000 had been transferred into a bogus account in Banbury.

Grant and Nick Hanson, the society’s finance director, were arrested in April 2010. Hanson died of a heart attack, aged 48, in September 2010. At the time of his death, Hanson had been suspended on full pay, while Grant had been sacked.

All members of the Cotswold Water Park Society resigned in March 2011, and its work was transferred to the previously dormant Cotswold Water Park Trust in April 2011.

Matthew Millett, managing director of the Cotswold Water Park Trust, said: "The fraud carried out by Dennis Grant has been a distressing episode in the organisation’s history, and we are pleased that justice has been done.

"We’d like to pay credit to our operations director, Tasha Flaherty, who brought him to justice. Tasha, who joined the organisation in 2009, put herself at considerable risk in investigating what he was up to, and called in the police. It was her diligence and detective work that led to the arrest and Dennis Grant’s conviction."

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