Charity fraud woman gets time to pay up

Kate Bethel will be given until September to pay back �37,000

Kate Bethel will be given until September to pay back �37,000

  • Kate Bethel defrauded a charity she managed out of £47,000 she will have to wait almost five months to learn her fate
  • She used the money to try to prop up her failing hotel
  • Her crime almost led to the collapse of a transport scheme for the disabled, which was saved by Blackpool Council
  • Bethel will be given until September to pay back £37,000
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A woman who defrauded a charity she managed out of £47,000 will have to wait almost five months to learn her fate.

Kate Bethel used the money to try to prop up her failing hotel, Preston Crown Court.

This could have led to the closure of the services of the charity

Her crime almost led to the collapse of a transport scheme for the disabled, which was saved by Blackpool Council.

A judge deferred her punishment until September after hearing that a friend had offered her a £37,000 loan to compensate the Rideability scheme which provides travel for the elderly, disabled and vulnerable people in the community.

But Judge Jonathan Gibson told her: “I am not saying you can buy yourself out of a custodial sentence.”

Bethel, 44, of Clarendon Road, St Annes had pleaded guilty to a charge of dishonestly making a false representation.

The offence covered a period from April 1 2012 to June 30 last year.

Loss

Some of the money has been repaid, but there is still an outstanding loss of £37,366.

The Rideability project was run by the Disability Services for Blackpool Council.

Harry Pepper, prosecuting, said Bethel was responsible for the day to day running of the charity which provided subsidised mini buses.

Bethel carried out the fraud in a number of ways, he told the court.

Money was transferred from one account to another and then to the defendant’s account.

Deposits were said to be paid for holidays, despite Rideability not offering that service to its customers.

Mr Pepper said: “The defendant falsified emails and printed typed emails to falsify that the money had come from Shearings coach firm.”

The total fraud involved was £47,266.

Bethel was arrested and interviewed last October.

She told police she had been divorced eight or nine years ago and got a raw deal from what she called a “bad marriage”.

She had a guest house that was in debt and had falsified accounts to prop up the hotel and pay debts. She said the offence had been a stupid thing to do.

Bethel had no previous convictions.

In a victim personal statement the charity’s chairman, Martin Wilson, said the crime had had a significant effect.

He told the court: “This could have led to the closure of the services of the charity.

“Had this occurred this would have led to the vulnerable, elderly, disabled services users being left without any form of transport and support to enhance their daily living.”

He said the charity was kept going with the help of Blackpool council and he described what happened as a “despicable breach of trust”.

Wayne Jackson, defending, handed in a number of testimonials on Bethel’s behalf.

He said a man was prepared to give her a loan.

He said: “In this case we are able to advance a proposition which means that black hole will be filled and the charity will be reimbursed for the loss they have sustained.”

Others described her as hard working, diligent, kind and having acted totally out of character.

Mr Jackson added: “She has gone through a difficult time of late.

“Her relationship with her partner has significantly broken down.

“She has slept in a car in the coach park compound, on other occasions she has been sofa surfing.

“The coach company is prepared to offer her a restructuring package, providing her with a job. They know what has happened.

“This was not a sophisticated fraud. It went between accounts and it went straight out. It didn’t take rocket science to find out exactly what had happened.

“She had bought a hotel a number of years ago and it became a millstone. It is to be repossessed at the end of May. “Her life has now simply fallen apart.”

Judge Gibson adjourned the sentencing to September 8, with several requirements. He wants her to commit no further offences, arrange for repaying the outstanding money and make positive changes to her life.

He also told her: “If you do that I will deal with you by way of suspended sentence”.