Fraudster gets second chance to repay cash

Kate Bethel, 44, the former manager of Blackpool's Rideability scheme
Kate Bethel, 44, the former manager of Blackpool's Rideability scheme
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A fraudster who cheated a charity she managed out of £47,000 has been given a second chance to compensate her victims after a court was told she had not handed over a penny since being given time to pay up.

Kate Bethel had siphoned the cash from the Rideability scheme, which provides transport for the elderly, vulnerable and disabled in the Blackpool area and her dishonesty nearly led to its collapse. It was saved by the town’s council, a judge was earlier told.

I’m afraid you are a fraudster and it may well be that the information I was given previously was simply designed to try and persuade me to impose a suspended sentence

Bethel, a mother -of-five- including a 19 -year-old who is registered disabled -had earlier pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation, between April 1, 2012 and June 30, 2014 and had originally appeared for sentence at Preston Crown Court.

In April, Judge Jonathan Gibson, had deferred sentence until this month, after he was told Bethel had been promised a £37,000 loan by a friend to cover the amount outstanding to the charity.

The 44-year-old, of Clarendon Road, St Annes, was told she must pay the compensation and keep out of trouble in the meantime.

But when she appeared back in the dock on Tuesday at Burnley Crown Court,the judge was told the loan had not materialised.

Bethel, now taking home £1,800 a month as a coach driver, had not made any repayments to the charity and had not saved any money up either.

Judge Gibson, who said he was concerned at least some of the money should be repaid to the charity, adjourned sentence until January 29, when Bethel also faces a proceeds of crime hearing. He said it may well be that the information he was given previously was designed to try and save her from jail and from paying up and the next four months would show whether she really intended to repay the money.

The court had previously been told how Bethel carried out the con on Rideability by transferring money between accounts and then into her own bank and falsifying emails to the total of £47,266. £37, 366 is still outstanding.

Stephen Parker, prosecuting, said since the deferment, Bethel had appeared before Blackpool justices for two frauds and will be sentenced on September 14.

The offences involved a total of £1,500 and the use of two credit cards taken out in her daughter’s name. He said: “It’s right to say that the date of the offending in relation to these matters does not put the defendant in breach of the deferment.”

Wayne Jackson, for Bethel, said the loan had not materialised, didn’t appear to have been bona fide and there had been no repayment of the money. The defendant was now working again and could pay compensation at £300 a month.

Mr Jackson said Bethel had care of five children, one whom had particular difficulties, and worked long hours.

Adjourning the case, Judge Gibson told Bethel: “I’m afraid you are a fraudster and it may well be that the information I was given previously was simply designed to try and persuade me to impose a suspended sentence. If that were the case you couldn’t really complain at an immediate custodial sentence.”

Bethel was given unconditional bail until January 29.