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 Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 12:14 GMT
Charity fraudster freed on appeal
Court graphic
A conman who had no money when he organised a 38,000 charity event at Kensington Palace has been freed from jail.

Christopher Mitchell, 23, of Lodge Avenue, Elstree, was sentenced to eight months in September for fraudulent trading.

On Thursday London's Criminal Appeal Court quashed the jail term and instead imposed a 12-month community rehabilitation order.

Judge David Maddison, sitting with Lord Justice Rix and Mr Justice Crane, said the correct sentence at Crown Court would have been the 12-month order and 80 hours of community service.

It has to be said his subsequent dealings with creditors were characterised by evasion and dishonesty

Judge David Maddison

Because Mitchell had already served two months in jail, the Appeal Court did not impose any community service.

Describing the circumstances as "highly unusual", Judge Maddison said that when Mitchell was 19 he set up Children's Celebrations, a company which was never registered as a charity.

The event at Kensington Palace Orangery on 16 May 2000 was "disastrous" with only 20 people attending and a total loss to creditors of almost 40,000.

Custody threshhold

"It has to be said his subsequent dealings with creditors were characterised by evasion and dishonesty," he added.

The basis of his guilty plea at St Albans Crown Court was that he made no financial gain.

Judge Maddison said: "In view of the number of creditors, the amounts owed to them, the pattern of evasion and the deception, we can readily understand the learned judge taking the view that this case crossed the custody threshhold."

But he added the Appeal Court had taken into account the highly unusual circumstances and the fact that the losses were losses of profit rather than money previously held.


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11 Oct 02 | England
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