Theft-hit rape crisis centre to be wound up

The Charity Commission is to oversee the winding-up of a rape crisis centre that was the victim of a £1,000 theft by its former chairwoman.

Confusion surrounded the status of York Rape Crisis Centre following the conviction of former volunteer Alison Wilson for stealing the sum in cheques between September and October last year.

York magistrates heard that the charity, which had an income of just over £5,000 in 2003/04, had closed earlier this year for unrelated reasons. However, the regulator was unaware of that fact and still listed Wilson as the charity’s official contact on its website.

A spokeswoman for the commission told Third Sector that it had subsequently been in contact with Wilson, who had confirmed that she was no longer associated with the centre and confirmed its intention to close. “We will continue to monitor the charity as it winds up,” the spokeswoman said.

At a sentencing hearing last month, Wilson, who was suffering from stress-related problems at the time of the thefts, was given a two-year conditional discharge and ordered her to pay £43 costs.

Senior magistrate Fiona Holland told the court: “We are concerned that in general there seems to be a lack of good accountancy matters in all manner of charities. It is very possible to get into a muddle and there should be tighter procedures.”

In an unrelated case, the former chairman of Northern Ireland charity the Children’s Magic Wand Trust has been ordered to repay £7,000 of the £50,000 he stole from the charity in 2002 and 2003.

In August, Stuart Collins was jailed for two years for stealing the money while he was chairman and a trustee of the charity, which provides holidays for disabled and terminally ill children. Another six months will be added to the sentence if he does not repay the amount within six months.

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