Fraudster stole Â£216,000 from Leeds Christian charity for disadvantaged children to fund lavish lifestyle
A fraudster stole Â£216,000 from the Leeds-based Christian charity where he was a project manager to fund a lavish lifestyle.
Lee Patterson abused his senior position and covered his tracks by creating false business accounts.
Patterson diverted funds into his own bank accounts which he used to build an extension on his home and buy a car for his son.
The 51-year-old also paid money into the accounts of his own businesses.
Leeds Crown Court heard Patterson was employed by The Yorkshire Band of Hope Union.
He was the project manager for the Bramley Family Support Project and Wildfire Project.
Lee Fish, prosecuting, said the charities provide emotional support for disadvantaged children.
Mr Fish said: "There is clear evidence that funds were used to fund a lavish lifestyle.
"It has had a significant impact on the charity.
"They have had to close a number of projects."
Patterson took up his role with the charity in 2008 and the offending came to light in 2012.
Trustees were alerted to financial mismanagement after Patterson used a charity credit card to withdraw money.
Investigations revealed charity money had been transferred to a building firm carrying out work on his house.
Other amounts were also paid into the accounts of two of his companies - Little Legs, a children's soft play business, and Vision Housing.
Patterson managed to conceal his offending from charity trustees by producing fake accounts.
He switch the company which audited the accounts to another company owned by him.
Patterson, of Heatherfield Crescent, Marsh, Huddersfield, pleaded guilty to four offences of fraud.
Patterson has a previous conviction for fraud dating back to 1998.
He was the sales manager at a builder's merchant when he sold company property and kept the money for himself.
Nicholas De La Poer, mitigating, handed 42 references to the court on behalf of people describing Patterson's good character.
The barrister said Patterson had been very successful bidding for projects and was still committed to charity work despite his offending.
He said had not been in trouble in the five years since the offending and had continued to help a charity based in Romania.
Mr De La Poer said Patterson had also given some of the stolen money to people who were in financial need.
He added: "He exhibits defective thinking."
Patterson was jailed for three years, four months.
Judge Simon Phillips, QC, said: "Many people who were doing their best to work with you and work alongside you, whose confidence you gained, have been cruelly let down and misled by you.
"Your fall from being a senior employee has been monumental."
After the case, Detective Constable Kate Hardaker of the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Fraud Team said:
“These offences occurred over a prolonged period of time.
“They have ultimately stripped the charity of thousands of pounds that would have been used to provide emotional and practical support to disadvantaged children and their families.
“He has clearly shown no regard for the consequences of his actions and seemingly cared more about personal gain than for those in the community he was charged with caring for."
* Clarification: In this article we reported that money was paid into the account of Vision Housing.
We are happy to clarify that Vision Housing is now owned by Esther Powell and Claire Lincoln and there is no connection with the previous owner of Vision Housing.