Woman who pocketed cash for memorial bench avoids prison
- Credit: Archant
A Sudbury woman who pocketed hundreds of pounds of crowdfunded cash earmarked for a bench in memory of a motorcyclist killed in a crash has avoided jail.
Shannon Goodyear, 22, contacted the mother of Jake Page following the death of the Great Waldingfield 19-year-old in an accident in Sudbury on April 6, 2018, magistrates in Ipswich heard.
Goodyear told Mr Page's mother, Joanna Cope, that she had been best friends with her son and that she wanted to raise money for a bench in his memory.
In November 2018, Goodyear set up a Go Fund Me page and raised a total of £440 for the bench, Elizabeth Traugott, prosecuting, told the court.
She then asked Mrs Cope to make up the shortfall for the bench, and needed another £247, magistrates heard.
Goodyear said she went through a company called Streetmaster to order the bench and sent Mrs Cope a quote from the company for the bench.
After Mrs Cope gave Goodyear the cash, she heard nothing from her for two weeks, the court heard.
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In February 2019, Mrs Cope contacted Streetmaster with the quote reference number, and the company confirmed they had only received a request for a quote and no order had been placed.
Streetmaster also informed Mrs Cope that no deposit had been paid for the bench.
On March 1, 2019, Goodyear said the bench had been delivered to her house in a cardboard box, and the value of the bench was £798.
Mrs Cope asked if she could come and collect the bench but Goodyear made an excuse about why this was not possible, Ms Traugott told the court.
Goodyear also said she had contacted the council about where to place the bench but was unable to provide details of the correspondence.
In police interview on September 10, 2019, Goodyear told officers the bench was at her house assembled along with a plaque.
The bench purchased was "not fit for purpose", the court heard.
Goodyear, of Warner Place, Sudbury, who had no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and theft prior to her trial starting on Tuesday.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Page's sister, Jemma, said Goodyear's actions were "cruel and awful" and that she "took advantage" of her family at a vulnerable time.
David Allan, representing Goodyear, said his client was not intending to divert money from the memorial page.
He said: "The money was transferred to her partner's account, it was spent, and she panicked.
"She began lying and she continued lying, and from that point onwards, rather than come clean, she dug herself a deeper and deeper hole trying to cover up the situation that she found herself in."
Mr Allan added that Goodyear had her own "personal difficulties" at the time and had spent money on a replacement bench which was "bought out of desperation".
Magistrates sentenced Goodyear to 10 weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and 60 hours of unpaid work.
She must also complete 30 rehabilitation activity days and pay a total of £500 in compensation.