Former air ambulance charity man jailed

A SUFFOLK man who stole £2,500 from the East Anglian Air Ambulance charity while he was working as chief fundraiser in the county has been jailed for four months.

A SUFFOLK man who stole £2,500 from the East Anglian Air Ambulance charity while he was working as chief fundraiser in the county has been jailed for four months.

Richard Green, who went to prison still maintaining his innocence, was told by Recorder Jeremy Richards that the offences he had committed were so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence could be justified.

Green, 49, of Strickland Manor Hill, Yoxford was convicted by a jury in January after a four-day trial of stealing £2,500 from the EAAA and three offences of falsifying weekly returns of receipts for the charity. He had denied all the charges.

During the trial, which was adjourned until yesterday for a pre-sentence report, the court heard that Green had committed the offences in 2001 while he was the chief fundraiser for the EAAA in Suffolk.

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Green had banked cheques for £906 from a garden open day in Yoxford, a £260 donation from Wrentham Parish Council and £1,337 from an open day at Hinderclay but failed to mention the donations in his weekly returns.

The prosecution claimed that having banked the cheques Green pocketed the cash equivalent from money donated to the charity.

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Green told the court he had been instructed by the fundraising manager for the EAAA that it was all right to "rob Peter to pay Paul" and used funds from one event to bolster profits from another. He claimed he had done this on several occasions but had not acted dishonestly.

Jeff Israel, for Green, urged the court to impose a community punishment order rather than a prison sentence.

He said the offences had been committed in 2001 and Green had been under considerable stress while waiting for the case to come to court.

"The long wait for trial had been a nightmare for him and has led to him contemplating suicide and receiving treatment for depression," he said.

Eleven years ago Green had appeared in court for taking mail while he was working as a postman and for fraudulently using a vehicle excise licence.

Mr Israel said Green had lost his job as a postman as a result of the offences.

He said while the previous offences were for dishonesty they were wholly different to the current offences.

He said Green had recently been working as a travelling salesman and was terrified at the prospect of being imprisoned.

Passing sentence, Recorder Richards said Green was guilty of a breach of trust and had taken advantage of "weak systems" that the charity had which enabled him to take money over a period of time.

He added that charities in this country relied on members of the public giving money willingly and generously. He said public confidence would be damaged by cases such as Green's.

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