Belfast Telegraph

Fraudster (26) who stole hundreds from Cancer Research UK is the son of doctor who died of disease

Matthew Neilly
Matthew Neilly

By Staff Reporter

A fraudster who stole hundreds of pounds from Cancer Research UK - and whose late father was a respected cancer surgeon who himself died of the disease - has been sentenced.

Detectives in Coleraine yesterday welcomed the sentence handed down to Matthew Neilly (26), who stole a total of almost £30,000 from various sources.

Neilly was sentenced at Omagh Crown Court yesterday to one-year imprisonment suspended for three years after pleading guilty to several offences.

Florist Neilly had made a restitution payment of £29,800 before yesterday's sentencing. One victim received £25,000.

At an earlier hearing Neilly, from Shore Road in Newtownabbey, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft, from Cancer Research UK and Hilary Turkington.

Neilly's own father Paul was an eminent cancer surgeon at Altnagelvin Hospital.

He died in 2004 aged 41 after fighting cancer of the bowel and lungs when Matthew was aged just 11.

His later father, Dr Paul Neilly
His later father, Dr Paul Neilly

Matthew Neilly also admitted two counts of fraud by abuse of the positions he held at LA Interiors and Herbert Gould Home Ltd on dates between April 2013 and February 2016.

Detective Inspector Pete McKenna said: "The victims in his crimes included a charity and local business outlets in the Cookstown, Belfast and Limavady areas.

"He showed a callous disregard for those he chose to defraud.

"He took money from hard-working business people who chose to earn an honest, decent living. People who put back into their community, who offer employment to local people. He also ran a fashion show for a charity and did not submit the funds raised.

"He decided to swindle people who attended this show who believed the money they gave would be used to help others in their time of most need. He did not care who he hurt or how he appropriated his money."

The detective said Neill's offending "demonstrated a high degree of planning and preparation in his manipulation of people".

"I hope this sentencing sends out a clear message to anyone who thinks they can get away with this type of crime. We will work tirelessly to bring offenders before the courts so that victims receive the justice they deserve," said Mr McKenna.

Before his own death in 2004, Paul Neilly wrote movingly about his Christian faith and diagnosing himself with the disease.

His strongly-held faith in Christ led the father-of-three to chronicle his personal experiences in an extraordinary written testimony called At The Cutting Edge before his death.

It had been his dying wish to share his faith and experience.

Ever since, thousands of copies of his testimony have been sent to all corners of the globe.

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