Belfast Telegraph

Repay £20k charity money or go to jail

By Staff Reporter

A man who conned the British Heart Foundation out of more than £20,000 has been given until the end of the year to repay the charity – or face prison.

Michael Young had been a delivery driver for the organisation, but after his contract ended he continued to submit invoices for another 10 months for work he never carried out.

The scheme was discovered when Young drew attention to himself by phoning the charity to ask why one of his fake invoices had not been processed.

A defence lawyer said that up until then the fraud had been overlooked because the British Heart Foundation's head office was based in England.

Young, from Greenvale Drive in Antrim, spoke only to confirm his name and to enter guilty pleas to each of the 15 counts of fraud, totalling £20,725, against his former employer.

Antrim Crown Court judge Desmond Marrinan told 34-year-old Young that while "any accountant worth his salt should have picked this up... you have defrauded a charity which does great work to help people who are very ill".

Granting continuing bail, he added: "I am adjourning sentencing to allow you significant time to attempt to pay the money back and make full restitution."

He also warned Young he faced a possible custodial sentence.

The defendant will be sentenced in early December.

The crimes took place on various dates between October 12, 2012 and August 3 last year.

Earlier, prosecuting lawyer Neil Connor said that although the fraudulent invoices totalled more than £20,000, two had in fact not been paid, so the amount lost to the charity was actually £18,000.

Although – as Judge Marrinan told the lawyer in court– "it's a substantial amount in any event".

When he was arrested and interviewed, Young initially denied the fraud to police, but when his own bank records were put to him he had no choice but to admit to the scam.

Mr Dowey said that to date he had gathered some cash together but was exploring two avenues to sell assets in an attempt to make complete restitution.

As he adjourned sentencing for a longer than normal period, Judge Marrinan said that the court was "always anxious to ensure that anyone who does this type of offence – particularly to a charity – makes as much restitution as possible".

Moments after pleading guilty, Young ran from the court, with a hoodie pulled over his head in an attempt to hide his face.

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