A man who pocketed commuters’ charity donations across the South has been jailed for 13 months. Roy Bardy (48) was sentenced yesterday after previously pleading guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation.
The court heard how, over a period of three years, Bardy recruited volunteers and employees to stand at rail stations across the country, including Berkshire, Essex, Hampshire and Kent, to collect money for many local charities.
British Transport Police officers were first alerted to Bardy’s actions when commuters complained of suspicious behaviour from Bardy and his collectors at several stations. Evidence at his office and home address was seized and examined by detectives.
It was here officers discovered the extent of fraud Bardy had been running as part of his business. He was approaching charities and offering his services as a charity collector and fundraiser to recruit teams to stand at stations and collect donations.
Once he had gained their trust, he would establish contact with the train operation companies seeking to have authorised charity collectors at stations on specific dates to collect donations from commuters – stations as far apart as Tunbridge Wells in Kent and Southport in Merseyside were targeted.
Charity collectors were then able to attend in possession of appropriate ID and letters from charities, completely unaware of what was being said and done in their name.
Paperwork and fancy dress costumes were found at his property and, although the full financial extend of Bardy’s actions are not known, officers were able to find evidence for 81 incidents where collections on behalf of two charities took place or were planned to take place.
Although some of these collections may have been legitimate, Bardy admitted some money collected had been taken for himself.
Sentencing Bardy to 13 months imprisonment for each offence concurrently, Judge Henry Blacksell said: “You saw an opportunity to make money from charities which you manipulated to your advantage.
“You made multiple fraudulent, deceiving transactions over the years. It was a breach of trust and a representation which causes people to suffer.
“You are a manipulator, and a dishonest man.”
Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Constable Mike Ganly, the case investigating officer, said: “This is a sad case that has seen commuters’ kind generosity and donations to charities unknowingly taken by Bardy and pocketed himself.
“He is a callous thief and his actions, diverting money away from charities which rely on donations to fund their good work, has resulted in those good causes suffering financial losses.”
Alistair McLean, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Standards Board – the regulator for charity fundraising in the UK – added: “Although any instances of charity fraud are incredibly rare, they are deeply concerning. Such acts not only deceive supporters and divert much-needed funds from good causes, but carry an even greater cost of damaging public trust and future charitable giving.”
He continued: “This has come at a time when genuine charities need the public’s donations now more than ever.
“The British Transport Police are to be congratulated on pursuing this case through to a successful prosecution. Without doing so, many more charity supporters may have been duped by this man and vital charitable donations lost.”