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Belfast man ‘very lucky’ to avoid jail over charity fraud

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A Belfast man has been told he was “very lucky” not to be going to jail for committing fraud against the Halifax’s charity wing.

David Cullen appeared at Belfast Crown Court where he was sentenced for three counts of fraud by false representation.

He was made the subject of a three-year Probation Order after it emerged he has paid back “every penny” of the money he stole from the Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland.

The 52-year old, from Minnowburn Terrace, was the founder and director of the Crossover Basketball NI charity, and in that position he applied for three grants from the Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland.

The three applications were granted and the money was released from the Foundation and paid into the charity’s bank account.

A total sum of £13,700 was received from the Halifax Foundation, with Cullen’s offending spanning a period from December 2013 to December 2016.

Cullen’s offending emerged when a grants officer for the Halifax Foundation carried out an evaluation.

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An investigation was then launched which resulting in Cullen being arrested and charged with fraud.

As she sentenced the father-of-four, Judge Donna McColgan QC said that the funds received by the defendant from the Halifax Foundation “were not used for charitable purchases.”

The judge added it was accepted Cullen has now paid back all the money he took.

She said she had taken into consideration defence submissions which included the delay in the case being dealt with, and the fact Cullen has paid back all the money.

After she imposed a three-year Probation Order, Judge McColgan addressed Cullen and said: “I think you should consider yourself very lucky ... and very grateful to your counsel for the efforts they have made on your behalf.”


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