A former soldier who defrauded Conwy Council out of 125 thousand pounds has been sentenced to three years in prison. Christopher O'Neill set up a charity for North Wales war veterans called Forces for Good.
But he spent money he obtained for the project on his own lavish lifestyle, and a gambling habit.
The judge in the case said he was astounded that the Welsh Government had approved the project without basic checks being carried out.
A man who defrauded Conwy Council out of £125,000 has been sentenced to three years in prison. Christopher O'Neill set up a charity for North Wales war veterans called Forces for Good, then spent money he obtained for the project on his own lavish lifestyle, and a gambling habit.
Sentencing O'Neill at Caernarfon Crown Court this morning, Judge Niclas Parry said his crime was nothing other than "a sophisticated, high value scam, a wicked deception on the public purse to enrich yourself."
He said it was "frankly astounding" that the Welsh Government approved O'Neill's project without checking basic facts, adding that the case highlighted the importance of making checks when approving grants out of the public purse.A forfeiture and destruction order was also made on O'Neill's goods.
Conwy County Borough Council say that no budgets were affected by the loss of £125,000 in the fraud by an ex-serviceman.
In a statement following the sentencing of Christopher O'Neill the council said the circumstances had "been fully investigated through a rigorous internal audit" and that their external auditors had "carried out a thorough review of arrangements for managing grants."
Conwy County Borough Council is extremely disappointed that it was amongst the victims of this despicable fraud.
The Council and its partner agencies aimed to assist former members of the armed forces who required particular help via the establishment of the Hotel Project.
When assurances sought from O’Neill were not forthcoming, it was Conwy County Borough Council that formally referred the matter to North Wales Police, and the Council’s Head of Audit was due to give evidence at the trial.
A man accused of defrauding a charity set up to help ex-service people has been sentenced to 3 years in prison. Christopher O'Neill pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud at an earlier hearing in January.
He was accused abusing his position at the charity "Forces for Good" by transferring £74,800 from its bank account in to his own. He was also accused of drawing on the funds to pay costs incurred by him during stays in hotels and guesthouses to the sum of £6,500.
A man accused of defrauding a charity set up to help ex-service people is due to be sentenced later today.
Christopher O'Neill admitted to two fraud charges in January.
He was given a grant of £125,000 from the Welsh Government for his charity 'Forces for Good'. At a previous hearing it was alleged that he went on a spending spree gambling heavily, running up hotel bills and buying a speedboat before being caught by North Wales Police.
Clwyd West MP David Jones has expressed his disappoinment at Conwy Council's failed Heritage Lottery bid but has raised questions over how the whole matter has been handled. "I am dismayed at this news. The pier is a worsening eyesore, which is disfiguring the Colwyn Bay seafront," he said.
"I hope that the Council will now urgently improve its funding bid and resubmit it to HLF as quickly as reasonably possible. I do have major concerns about the way this issue has been handled by the Council.
"Many people in the town have innovative ideas as to how the pier can be made to pay, so as to provide a sustainable income stream. The whole of the county now has a vested interest in the pier, so local people should be allowed to have their say."