Belfast Telegraph

Charity director is convicted on forgery and fraud charges

By George Jackson

A former charity director has been found guilty of seven charges relating to double funding applications he made to the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister and to Derry City Council.

Eddie Kerr set up the charity SEEDS in Londonderry to help migrant workers integrate with the local community.

He faced a total of 15 charges relating to dates between September 2009 and March 2011.

The jury of eight men and four women found Kerr unanimously guilty of seven of the 15 charges following a five-day trial and after deliberating for an hour and 40 minutes.

The jury foreman told trial Judge Donna McColgan that they found Kerr unanimously not guilty of three of the 15 charges and that on the remaining five charges they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

The jurors will continue with their deliberations on the five remaining charges.

Kerr, from Ashfield Terrace in the Creggan Road area of the city was released on continuing bail.

A prosecution barrister said the charges were in three primary brackets, the forgery of another man's name on application forms for grant aid, to pay Kerr's salary of £30,000 and to submitting the application forms, presenting the other man's name as a genuine signature and lodging the forms to obtain money and fraudulently and knowingly submitting false funding application forms with intent to expose the OFMDFM to a financial loss.

The prosecutor said the case against Kerr was that on a number of occasions he applied for two salaries from two funding groups to pay for his position as co-ordinator of the charity SEEDS.

"He was claiming for a salary from OFMDFM when he was already receiving a salary from Derry City Council," the prosecutor said.

When interviewed by the police Kerr admitted he was responsible for making, signing and lodging the various applications, but said one of the grants he received was to pay for the running expenses of the charity and not to give himself a second salary.

Defence barrister Brian McCartney said Kerr was a former teacher who took early retirement to work for the homeless, people with language difficulties and migrant workers, and during his time at SEEDS had helped in excess of 50,000 disadvantaged people.

Mr McCartney said initially Kerr was not paid a wage but was subsequently given a salary of £30,000, with no pension, bonuses or travelling expenses.

Quote

"I am not making excuses. We had major projects running. It was difficult to keep all the plates spinning at the same time. I did not intend to defraud or to steal. If I am being accused of anything it is of re-profiling money. I know what I probably did was wrong but it was wrong for the right reasons. It was to put money to better uses."

Charity director Eddie Kerr

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