A man who spent donations meant to help children with disabilities or serious illnesses on his stag do and wedding has been jailed for more than two years.
Scott Wright, 45, of Hengrove, Bristol, admitted fraudulently spending £57,000 of charitable funds which should have been used for treatment or equipment for children.
He was sentenced today at Bristol Crown Court to 28 months in prison.
Families of the children who believed they would be beneficiaries of the Darren Wright Foundation – the charity run by Wright – first became concerned about how the money was being spent in 2017.
After struggling to get hold of the charity and access the funds raised on behalf of their children, several families contacted the Charity Commission.
But when the trustees of the Darren Wright Foundation failed to cooperate with its inquiry, the Commission referred the matter to police.
Officers from our Fraud Team subsequently launched an investigation, focusing on the income of the charity and determining what were legitimate expenses.
A detailed financial analysis was conducted of bank accounts belonging to the charity and Wright, while the charity’s office and his home address were also searched.
It soon became clear large amounts of cash had been removed from the charity’s bank while significant sums were credited to Wright’s personal accounts.
Most of the money was spent on day to day living expenses but Wright also used it to finance his stag do and wedding.
Detective Sergeant Louise Sinclair, of the Fraud Team, said: “I’d like to praise the families affected by Wright’s offending for their resilience and determination to obtain justice.
“This has been a difficult time for many of them whose lives are already incredibly stressful and filled with the challenges of caring for children with disabilities.
“As well as the emotional trauma they had to endure in not knowing what was happening or where the money had gone, some of the families were forced into financial difficulty after having no choice but to pay for treatments themselves or risk losing their appointments.
“Some have also had to start fund raising all over again which has been really hard work for them, particularly when it has involved asking people to donate for a second time.
“The officer investigating this case worked tirelessly to piece together what was a very chaotic financial puzzle and she deserves great credit for building such a compelling case. Detective Constable Charlotte Suter was instrumental in holding Wright accountable and in supporting the families through what has been a lengthy process.
“While Wright has demonstrated significant remorse and regret for his actions it is only right he is punished for the upset he caused and I hope now that he has been sentenced this brings some closure to all those involved.”