Defrauded charity organisation

A FOUNDER member of a Special Olympics sport club has admitted defrauding the charity organisation of nearly £1,000 over a four-month period after he lost his job last year.

Christopher Anderson, (60) of Cedar Park, Bleary, appeared at Craigavon Magistrates Court last Friday where he pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud by abuse of position at Birdies Special Olympics Golf Club.

The incidents took place between February 28 and May 31 of last year, when he forged signatures on six Northern Bank cheques, amounting to a total of 984.85, made payable to himself.

The court heard that Anderson admitted to the club’s treasurer in June last year that he had forged six cheques made payable to himself but “paid back more than 1,000” to replace the defrauded funds.

Following Anderson’s admission, the club treasurer contacted the PSNI and on July 24, 2009, Anderson admitted forging a signature on the cheques under police questioning at Lurgan Police Station.

A solicitor acting on Anderson’s behalf said his client had been experiencing financial difficulties during the period when the cheques were cashed.

The solicitor revealed that Anderson had lost his job and was under pressure to provide for his son who was at university but continued in an “almost pathetic way to get dressed and pretend to go to work.”

He explained: “Mr Anderson sold medals to get money for his son and the charity money was used to make ends meet.”

The lawyer also told the court that Anderson has a 23-year-old daughter who suffers from autism who attends the Special Olympics club, and that his client felt “repulsed by the fact that it was charity money.”

“This man has suffered heavily because of the guilt he feels,” he said. “He feels physically sick and horrendous by what he had done.”

In response, the District judge said it was “hard to think of meaner charges than stealing money from charity“ but would take into consideration Anderson’s psychologist report which revealed he was of “low risk” of re-offending.

Subsequently, Anderson received a five-month prison sentence for each count of fraud to run concurrently. This was suspended for three years.

Anderson was also 150 for each count of fraud, totalling 900.0