December 6 2013 Latest news:
By Elliot Furniss
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
A CHARITY shop owner has admitted fraudulently collecting money for the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance.
Nigel Philpott-Jones, proprietor of a Walton on the Naze shop, has pleaded guilty to fraud by false misrepresentation at the end of a four-year investigation.
Chelmsford Crown Court heard that despite advertising itself as raising much-needed funds for the service, which gets no direct government funding and needs £380,000 a month just to keep operating, no cash had ever been passed to the charity on from sales.
Philpott-Jones has been issued with a six-month custodial sentence and a serious crime prevention order for five years.
The investigation, which involved Essex Police, Essex Trading Standards and the Charity Commission, started back in 2008 when the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT) became aware that the shop had opened using air ambulance branding.
Speaking after yesterday’s hearing, Jane Gurney, CEO of EHAAT, said everyone at the charity was delighted that the investigation had reached a “satisfactory conclusion” and they wanted to thank everyone involved in the prosecution of the case.
She said: “Following what has been a long and difficult process, I am really pleased that we have ended up with the right result.
“However, we are very sad that even though over the years many people have supported the shop in good faith, the charity has not benefited from their generosity.”
No funds, other than £5.92 found in one collection tin seized by Essex Police, have ever been received by EHAAT or the Association of Air Ambulances (AAA).