Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Friday, 21 August 2009 17:25 UK

Man sentenced over charity fraud

Gary Ferris
Police said Ferris took advantage of people wanting to donate money

A 38-year-old Kent man has been given a suspended jail term after organising charity events for sick children but keeping more than £8,000 of proceeds.

Gary Ferris, of Sweet Bay Crescent, Ashford, pleaded guilty to 15 fraud offences at an earlier hearing at Canterbury Crown Court.

He was sentenced to a six-month suspended jail term and 180 hours unpaid community service on Friday.

The court heard he ran the events in Kent, Essex, Norfolk and Surrey.

Race nights

After the sentencing, Det Insp Mark Fairhurst said: "While many people raise funds for good causes legitimately, Gary Ferris used money he had raised for charity to fund his gambling habits.

"He took advantage of people wanting to donate money to help ill children."

The prosecution followed a 13-month investigation by Kent Police's serious economic crime unit.

Officers said Ferris ran charity race nights at clubs and pubs, claiming the money would go to the Hopes and Dreams charity based in Redbridge, Essex.

But when publicans who hosted the event contacted the charity for fund-raising certificates, the charity contacted the police.

Officers identified 15 locations where race nights had been held, raising £8,160. None of the money was forwarded to Hopes and Dreams, police said.

Nobody at the charity was available to comment on Friday afternoon.

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