Page last updated at 16:11 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009

Aristocrat stole charity's 1.6m

A wealthy aristocrat has received a suspended prison sentence for taking £1.6m from a family charity intended to help Bosnian orphans.

Jonathan Davies, 65, from south-west London, admitted 10 counts of theft.

An inquiry found Davies treated the Dinam Charity like a "bottomless piggy bank", Southwark Crown Court heard.

He spent it on school fees, golf club membership and credit cards and put £1m towards the development of an inventor friend's spark plug.

Charity secretary

The Dinam Charity was set up in 1926 by Davies's philanthropist grandfather Lord Davies, the first Baron of Llandinam in Wales, the court was told.

All the thefts were committed between July 1999 and June 2000, during Davies's last year as charity secretary.

They first came to light when a relative discovered the money was missing from the accounts.

The 10 thefts involved just over £232,000 but inquiries revealed Davies, from Balham, had taken more than £1,656,000 from the charity.

It was an extraordinary exhibition of arrogance on your part that you decided to deliberately override the wishes of the trustees
Judge James Wadsworth QC

Prosecuting, Stephen Leslie QC said Davies had "abused his position of authority and trust and turned the funds of the charity to his own uses".

The charity, which funded a number of "worthy causes" including small charities in Wales and Bosnia, is now in the process of being wound up.

Sentencing, Judge James Wadsworth QC told Davies that he "clearly" understood the responsibility and trust bestowed upon him as charity secretary.

Davies was also aware of the trustee's "very strong view" that the charity's money should not be used to fund his friend's spark plug invention.

"It was an extraordinary exhibition of arrogance on your part that you decided to deliberately override the wishes of the trustees," the judge told him.

"You knew at all times you were handling the funds in direct contradiction of their wishes.

"What you did with the balance of the money I find even more extraordinary."

The judge said he was "quite satisfied" that the proper sentence would be three to four years imprisonment but "exceptional circumstances" warranted him suspending Davies's two-year sentence for two years.

He took into account Davies's guilty pleas, the fact it was "immensely unlikely" he would commit another offence of dishonesty and "as a matter of mercy" due to Davies's poor health.



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