Featherstone: Ex-mayor on fraud charges over war memorial funding

LOTTERY FUNDING: Featherstone memorial garden was built with �5,728 of Big Lottery Fund cash.
LOTTERY FUNDING: Featherstone memorial garden was built with �5,728 of Big Lottery Fund cash.
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A former Featherstone mayor faces fraud charges connected to lottery cash to build the town’s war memorial.

Prosecutors claim Roy Bickerton, 76, abused his position of trust as treasurer of Featherstone District Memorial Garden Fund to fraudulently obtain more than £5,000 of lottery cash.

Magistrates at Pontefract yesterday (Oct 8) heard it is alleged Bickerton submitted four false invoices to the Big Lottery Fund to claim £5,728.46 had been paid out by Featherstone District Memorial Garden Fund.

Prosecutors say Bickerton falsely claimed the memorial fund paid £675 to Tribe; £850 to Red Dog Imaging; £3603.46 to SA Compliance and £600 to Yorkshire Volunteers Band.

The offences are alleged to have taken place in December 2010.

Bickerton, who was mayor of Featherstone in 2009/2010, is also a former Feathersone town councillor and was an independent district councillor on Wakefield Council from 2004 to 2010.

Prosecutor, Amanda Harris told magistrates that Camelot launched an investigation after a complaint was made by a member of the public.

She added: “The crown say it is a gross breach of trust because of his position in the community.”

Bickerton, who was wearing a grey sweater, green trousers and green casual jacket, spoke only to confirm his age, name and his address as Sandhill Rise, Monk Hill, Pontefract, during the brief hearing.

No pleas were entered to the four fraud charges and four charges of using a false instrument.

Presiding Magistrate Susan Smith told Bickerton to return to Pontefract Magistrates’ Court on December 3 when his case is due to be sent to Leeds Crown Court for trial.

The war memorial on Station Lane – which has around 400 names inscribed on its walls – opened in October 2008 following years of campaigning by the community.

The brick memorial was built after a campaign backed by councillors and the Royal British Legion. Bickerton said when the memorial was unveiled: “It was an absolutely fantastic day. At last the names of Featherstone people who died in war are listed together.”

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