Charity volunteer ‘breached trust’

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STEALING money from a Bourne mental health charity has left a former volunteer with a suspended jail sentence.

Brian Cannell (58) abused his position as the only signatory for the Bourne Wellbeing Mental Health Support Group’s bank account and used the cash to improve his own standard of living.

On Tuesday, magistrates in Spalding handed him a four-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, and told him he will be electronically tagged for six months with an 8pm-8am curfew.

He must also pay back the £3,750 he took from the group.

Cannell, of The Broadway, Morton, pleaded guilty to the theft at a hearing last month and the case was adjourned to allow a pre-sentence report to be drawn up.

Passing sentence, presiding magistrate Susan Painter said: “This is a very serious offence and a serious breach of trust committed here. You had control of the money and, rightly or wrongly, were the only signatory.

“This is a large amount of money taken from a charity, which happened over a prolonged period.”

Marie Stace, prosecuting, told how other volunteers at the newly-formed Bourne Wellbeing Mental Health Support Group had never been able to see to see the transactions on the account.

She said they became “increasingly concerned” when group secretary Cannell, who had no money, bought some new household items.

The police were finally called on November 14.

Miss Stace said Cannell told officers during an interview a week later that he intended to repay the money from his disability allowance.

Mitigating, Mike Alexander said Cannell, who has mental health problems, attended the police station voluntarily and made a full admission.

He said: “This is a man who accepted his dishonesty and came clean. He is a man who had been working as a volunteer and he said he never wanted to be involved in money. There was a problem when they set up the account and no one else was willing to do it.

“He said he was not prepared for it not to be done.”

Mr Alexander said Cannell has since had his medication increased and is seeking help.

He also read a statement from Cannell, which said: “I wish to apologise sincerely to the group and to the court and police for taking up their time.”

Magistrates have also ordered Cannell not to contact any members of the group for the next 12 months.