Charity boss fraudster to be sentenced

A SENIOR employee at a charity which supports vulnerable people in Suffolk is to be sentenced by a judge after admitting defrauding her employer of thousands of pounds.

Sharon Carr, 51, was one of West Suffolk Mind’s most senior employees when she committed fraud totalling more than �8,400 with the charity’s credit card.

She appeared at Bury Magistrates’ Court yesterday after pleading guilty at a hearing last month to a single charge of fraud by abuse of position.

The charge relates to the theft of �8,464.83 – taken from the charity through multiple transactions between March 2007 and November 2009.

The court heard that Carr, of Raynsford Road, Great Whelnetham, near Bury, was entrusted with a credit card by the charity with a limit of �1,000 per month to spend on the charity’s needs and the people it supports.

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Instead, Rosalind Clarke, prosecuting, said she used the card to buy items for herself including hair products, DVDs, CDs, food, wine and meals out.

On one occasion, the court heard that she submitted a �43 expenses form for “respite activities” which turned out to be a dinner at a restaurant in Great Yarmouth.

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Carr was employed by Mind in 2000, working as a housing manager and deputy area manager, which allowed her access to a credit card in 2007.

Mark Thomas, in mitigation, said Carr only took the money after getting into financial difficulties at home which increased when her mortgage payments rose from �500 to �1,000 per month.

He said the initial claims were small and she intended to pay the money back but the amounts increased before getting out of control towards Christmas 2008.

He also told the court that Carr was now suffering from a recurrence of breast cancer but the prosecution said there was no evidence to support that.

At the end of yesterday’s hearing the magistrate told Carr she had carried out a deliberate act of fraud and had then tried to cover it up – a crime which could only be sentenced at crown court.

He said: “You committed this against a charity, not a company, and money was given to this charity by members of the public.

“You had a high level of trust at the charity and you should have acted in a professional and honest manner.”

West Suffolk Mind, based in Long Brackland, Bury, works to improve the lives of people with mental health issues. It is affiliated to the national mental health charity Mind.

Carr was released on unconditional bail and is due to appear for sentencing at Ipswich Crown Court on a date to be set.

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