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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 June 2006, 19:59 GMT 20:59 UK
Woman took ill boy's dolphin cash
Dolphins
Connor Jones would have been able to swim with dolphins on the holiday
A woman has admitted stealing thousands of pounds she had raised to send a seriously ill boy to swim with dolphins in the United States.

Kathryn James, 39, of Bonymaen, Swansea, admitted she did not give any money to the family of Connor Jones, 7, but disputed the amount stolen.

Connor's difficult birth meant he has curvature of the spine, epilepsy and asthma, Swansea Crown Court heard.

James was given a six-month sentence for the theft, suspended for two years.

Judge Michael Burr set the amount stolen at "about" 2,000.

James will learn whether she has to repay the stolen money at a hearing on 7 July.

No bank account

The mother-of-two had offered to raise money to send Connor and his mother Kelly to Florida, where he could swim with dolphins.

Frank Phillips, prosecuting, said James organised various fund-raising events but failed to keep adequate accounts.

Mr Phillips said he could not say exactly how much she stole, but at one stage James had announced the amount raised was 5,000.

Connor's family eventually discovered no bank account had ever been opened in his name and called the police, the court heard.

Chris Clee, defending, said James made the 5,000 claim to give the impression the fund was succeeding.

Donations to homeless

He told the court the true amount was considerably less and said James had incurred expenses which had been deducted from the fund.

Mr Clee said the original intention had been honest, but James's marriage had run into difficulties and she went through a divorce.

He added that James maintained some of the money was donated to a local school and other cash was handed out to homeless people.

Judge Burr said James's behaviour had done nothing to encourage the public to support similar good causes in the future.

He said such a theft would normally result in an immediate jail term, but he suspended the sentence because she was the sole carer of two young children.





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