Suffolk man stole £22,000 from horse racing charity
PUBLISHED: 21:09 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 21:50 16 May 2019
An accounts assistant at the Racing Welfare Charity who stole more than £22,000 after he got into financial difficulties has been jailed for three years.
Sentencing Nicholas McKee, Judge Rupert Overbury described the thefts as " mean and despicable" and said he had deprived the charity of money that should have been used to help vulnerable people employed in the horse racing industry.
He read out an impact statement from the charity in which it gave details of what the money could have been spent on.
This included 570 physiotherapy sessions, 456 mental health counselling sessions, three places on atwo week rehabilitation course, 15 mobility scooters, 28 holiday places for vulnerable and elderly people, 22 housing deposits to avoid people becoming homeless and 300 weeks of emergency food aid.
The charity also said that a theft by a member of staff damaged the charity's reputation and could discourage potential donors.
McKee, 37, of The Street, Kirtling, Newmarket, admitted theft by an employee over a 21 month period between March 2016 and December 2017.
Simon Walters, prosecuting, said McKee began working for the charity in January 2016 and had been employed as an accounts assistant two days a week.
McKee also had a computer company - Newmarket Computer Services- and he was sub-contracted three days a week to provide computer services to the Racing Welfare charity.
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Suspicions were aroused in December 2017 when a supplier contacted the charity to see why an invoice hadn't been paid.
Although records showed the bill had been paid it was discovered a £2,410 payment had been made to McKee's Newmarket Computer Services company.
It was then discovered McKee had made other payments to himself including a £1,440 payment in April 2017 and a £3,450 payment in November 2017.
When McKee was challenged about the payments he said he had financial difficulties.
He said he deeply regretted his actions and had hoped to repay the money.
Mr Walters said that after the thefts were uncovered McKee had continued his dishonesty by making a £130 payment using the charity's PayPal account.
McKee, who has a previous conviction for theft of £40 while working for a coffee shop, had agreed to repay the stolen £22,780 at £300 a month but had only made one repayment.
Phillip Farr, for McKee, said his client had trained to be a jockey and had worked in the racing industry.
He said McKee had saved £3,300 to repay the charity.