Belfast Telegraph

DJ Gary Neville jailed for stealing £930 from wee Oscar's fundraising appeal

By Chris Kilpatrick

An entertainer who stole almost £1,000 from the Oscar Knox Appeal has been jailed for eight months.

Disc jockey Gary Neville raised £930 at a fundraising music night he organised in October last year.

But the money was never handed over and he was charged with theft.

The night had been arranged to raise funds for the Neuroblastoma Children's Cancer charity.

Wee Oscar, from Newtownabbey, died from the rare form of cancer last May. He was just five years old.

Neville, from Cupar Way, Belfast, headed up the music fundraising night at a Lisburn bar.

A lawyer for 33-year-old Neville told Lisburn Magistrates Court his client was "utterly ashamed" of what he had done.

The lawyer said he had got into financial difficulty and was under threat of eviction from his home.

He added that Neville had written a letter of apology to the Knox family.

The judge told Neville his actions were absolutely shocking and sentenced him to eight months in prison.

The Oscar Knox Appeal was set up by his parents Stephen and Leona in 2012 to pay for the little boy's medical bills. In October 2012 Oscar received specialist treatment in America after his family reached their £25,000 fundraising target.

He was given the all-clear in April 2013, but the cancer later returned and he lost his battle against the disease in May.

Neville organised the fundraising night with local acts and performers.

The £10-a-ticket event featured Robbie Williams and Katy Perry tribute acts as well as other local musicians.

In a promotional interview, Neville told why he was raising funds for Wee Oscar.

"The fact that the boy is so young and that he has dealt with the cancer already and to be told six months later that it's back again, it sort of tugs at the old heart-strings, you feel you want to give something back," he said at time.

The performers waived their fees for the night and the venue did not charge for the use of its lounge.

All of those who took part in Neville's event are arranging another for the charity at a later date.

Factfile

The Oscar Knox Appeal quickly captured the hearts of the public in Northern Ireland. Its Twitter account became a phenomenon in June 2012 after a group of Irish football fans posed for pictures in Dublin Airport before the European football championships with a flag saying 'Angela Merkel thinks we're at work'.

Oscar - who had been allowed to stay up late to watch the matches - and his father Stephen made their own flag saying: 'My ma thinks I'll be in bed early' and then tweeted a picture of it.

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