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Charity night organiser pocketed cash for party and to buy nappies

By Nevin Farrell

Published 27/05/2015

Nikita Fernandez outside the court in Antrim yesterday
Nikita Fernandez outside the court in Antrim yesterday

A woman who organised a party evening to raise money for a charity in memory of her grandad who died from cancer has been ordered to carry out 120 hours of community service after pocketing cash, some of which was spent on a child's party and nappies.

Nikita Fernandez (24), from Rathkyle in Antrim town's Stiles estate, arranged a barbecue and dance at Moe's Grill in Antrim in August 2013 at £10 a ticket.

In a pre-event advert, Fernandez, whose father was in court with her, said "all money raised will go to Macmillan Cancer Support here in Northern Ireland, a charity close to my heart".

Instead, Antrim Magistrates Court heard some of the money was spent on nappies by the single mother-of-one. A prosecutor said Macmillan Cancer Support had gone to police saying it had not received any money when an event was held in its name, with 200 tickets sold.

The prosecutor said Fernandez told police she organised the fundraiser in memory of her grandfather and that after some of the money had been "stolen" she was left with £700, had given a relative £500 and kept £200, of which £50 was spent on nappies.

Fernandez, who had a clear record, had previously pleaded guilty to theft of the money from Macmillan but her defence barrister took issue with the amount of £1,400 on the charge sheet. He claimed his client had taken less.

The barrister alleged a friend of his client had also assisted in organising the event but had gone to England a short time later.

The lawyer said it was unclear how much money was involved as dancers had to be paid and there were also wristbands sold, and people could pay at the door.

As well as community service, the judge also ordered she pay £400 compensation to Macmillan Cancer Support. Outside court the defendant said she was "sorry" for what she had done.

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