1. ITV Report

How Stephen Coleman defrauded the JSPCA out of £400,000

Stephen Coleman leaving Jersey's Royal Court after being sentenced to seven years in prison. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Stephen Coleman was Chief Operating Officer of the JSPCA for more than eleven years. It was during an eight year period at the animal shelter that he defrauded the charity out of £405,550.91. But where did the money go?

According to detailed court documents released today, Coleman spent most of the money on "general living, extravagances, and borrowing costs".

Some of these luxurious purchases came in the form of new houses, holidays to Florida and expensive cars.

The 5-star Ritz-Carlton Hotel where Coleman and his wife spent their annual holiday. Credit: Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota Facebook Page

A breakdown of some Coleman's purchases:

  • In June 2011 Coleman obtained a personal loan of £15,000 in order to assist him purchasing a sports car. He obtained three further personal loans during his period of offending. One of the loans was to finance the purchase of a Porsche Cayenne for £45,794.
  • In 2011 he and his wife purchased a new house. That purchase caused their monthly mortgage payment to rise from £1,491 to £3,200.
  • From 2011 onwards Coleman and his wife took annual holidays to Sarasota in Florida. They flew Business Class each time, and stayed in the 5-star Ritz-Carlton Hotel for between 15 to 21 nights a time. Each holiday cost around £7,000 to £10,000.
  • Coleman also purchased 19 firearms during the period of offending.
An example of a Porsche Cayenne purchased by Coleman with fraudulent money. Credit: Pacific Press/SIPA USA/PA Images

How did he do it?

The 18-month police investigation found how Coleman instructed the payroll officer to increase his pay and the pay of two senior managers by 5% instead of 4% as authorised by the committee.

But how did he manage to get away with this?

Well, following a committee meeting Coleman generated false versions of the meeting notes, whereby he changed the wording in the minutes which granted him a higher salary increase.

The initial version read:"it was proposed to grant a staff pay increase of 4% across the board" which he then replaced with "it was proposed to grant a staff pay increase of 4% for hourly paid and 5% for senior managers across the board". This page was then added into the minute book, which was always kept in Coleman's office.

The court notes also highlight how Coleman misled the pay clerk into awarding inflated amounts, and in all but two instances, doctored committee minutes to suit him.

Response to crimes:

In a damning statement from the States of Jersey Police they referred to his character as "arrogant" and described him as a man with "little empathy". They added "he only ever thought of himself".

Coleman was today sentenced to seven years in jail. His reputation now permanently tarnished after stealing money from a charity, that should have been used to treat sick animals.