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The disgraced founder of a children’s cancer charity who featured in the TV show the Secret Millionaire plundered over £87,000 from the organisation and used the cash to transfer it into other people's bank account.
Colin Nesbitt, who found Bradford-based Little Heroes Cancer Trust, had denied any dishonesty after facing charges of fraud and theft, Yorkshire Live reports.
However, the culmination of a five-week trial at Bradford Crown Court saw the 60-year-old found guilty yesterday.
He was judged to have stolen more than £87,000 and abused his position as a director by transferring tens of thousands of pounds of the charity’s money into other bank accounts and using some of it as unsecured loans to two other people.
At the start of the trial last month the jury heard that the Little Heroes Cancer Trust had raised money through sponsored firewalking events, but it was alleged that Nesbitt had “pocketing” some of the cash received.
The prosecution alleged that Nesbitt, of Kent Road, Bingley, was the only person with full access to the charity’s bank account and he didn’t want others banking money raised at events.
When the TV star was interviewed by police, Nesbitt denied any offence of fraud and said he had never benefitted financially from the charity.
Nesbitt said he didn’t take a wage and rarely claimed expenses, but accepted that financial management was “not one of his strengths”.
Part-way through the trial, Judge Jonathan Gibson directed the jury to find Nesbitt not guilty in relation to charges of providing false or misleading information to the Charity Commission and today the jury also found him not guilty a further charge of fraud and one of theft of £7000.
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Judge Gibson granted Nesbitt bail until a sentencing hearing on April 30 but warned him that a custodial sentence would be under consideration.
Nesbitt started the charity, which was involved in making toy drops at hospitals and supporting children with cancer and their families, back in 2008 after his own grandson became ill.
He was initially arrested in October 2015 after concerns were raised with the Charity Commission.
A few years prior to that, Nesbitt and the charity featured in the Channel 4 programme the Secret Millionaire, in which poker player Andrew Feldman gifted £100,000 to the organisation.
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Nesbitt told the jury he had put his own money into the charity at the start and had been passionate about raising money to “give a kid a toy”.
He admitted it had been hard to keep track of the finances and conceded: ”I wasn’t careful enough with the money but I wasn’t being dishonest.”
His barrister Matthew Donkin said Nesbitt had not been living a lavish lifestyle and submitted to the jury that the prosecution case had been based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the workings of the charity and businesses associated with it.
- Channel 4
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