Four jailed after £1m fraud

Four people were jailed last week for their involvement in a fraudulent charity operation that included fictitious cartoon, TV and film characters on its list of donors.

Founders of the Swansea-based Care and Action Trust for Children with Handicaps, known as Catch, were found guilty of theft and abuse of Gift Aid. Together they were involved in a tax fraud worth £1m, Manchester Crown Court heard. 

Trevor England, one of the co-founders, was found guilty of theft, an income tax offence and theft, and sentenced to six years imprisonment. Mary Johnson, director of fundraising company Drawtreat, which was contracted by Catch, was pleaded guilty to an income tax charge and was found guilty of theft, and sentenced to seven years.

Drawtreat was one of a network of four Manchester-based companies that were wound up by the Department for Trade and Industry last year.

In addition, Johnson’s son and daughter, Paul Johnson and Donna Siddaway, both pleaded guilty to income tax offences committed while working at Catch and its trading arm. They were sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and 200 hours of community service respectively.

Andrea Glancy, the administrative manager at Catch and Catch Trading Co, pleaded guilty to income tax offences and received a two-year prison sentence.

Charity Commission appointed interim managers in 2002 to act on behalf of Catch after an earlier inquiry found evidence of “serious mismanagement”. A follow-up investigation by HM Revenue & Customs showed disguised donations and evidence that employees were benefiting personally from donations and repaid tax. Catch was removed from the charities register in 2005.

At the sentencing on 7 June, Judge Anthony Hammond said: “People were more than willing to give to charities and even more so to charities that looked after sick children. I regard people who collected for these charities to hold a position of trust and anyone stealing that money was in breach of that trust and will be sentenced accordingly.

“Those involved in collecting for this charity were in business to make a living for themselves,” the judge added.

The Commission is now working to complete an inquiry report into the charity, which is due to be published the next few weeks.

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