Man stole more than £300,000 from charity and spent it on holidays and rare vinyl records

Sending the defendant to prison for five years, a judge at Swansea Crown Court said the impact of his offending was one of the most serious he had come across in a fraud case. Credit: Media Wales/South Wales Police

The finance manager of a YMCA stole more then £300,000 from them, which he spent on long-haul holidays, home renovations, designer jewellery, and a vast collection of rare records.

As a result of Andrew Philpin's dishonesty the YMCA is on the edge of bankruptcy, has lost its charitable status, faces having to make dozens of staff redundant and it has thrown into doubt the future of its newly-redeveloped flagship headquarters.Sending the defendant to prison for five years, a judge at Swansea Crown Court said the impact of his offending was one of the most serious he had come across in a fraud case.

A proceeds of crime investigation will now be launched to recover the funds.

In 2009 Philpin was taken on the run the finances at the YMCA in Port Talbot.

Caitlin Brazel, prosecuting, said there were initial concerns that he seemed reluctant to undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service criminal record check and eventually he disclosed he had "borrowed" money from a previous employer which he had not been able to pay back.

The court heard the YMCA decided to continue his employment "to give him a chance to redeem himself" and the defendant would continue in the trusted role of finance adviser for the next 14 years with responsibilities for overseeing the funding coming into the organisation and also the paying wages and other bills.

The court heard that Philpin began systemically stealing money from the charity using a range of methods including transferring money directly into his bank account, withdrawing cash on the YMCA credit card, forging signatures on cheques, and creating invoices from companies for work supposedly done for the organisation.

As a result of Andrew Philpin's dishonesty the future of the YMCA's newly-redeveloped flagship headquarters. Credit: Media Wales

In total he stole £310,000 from the charity over a period of more than six years.

The court heard colleagues of Philpin noticed that at times he appeared to be "living beyond his means" for his £29,000-per-year salary and he explained it away by saying he had started receiving his RAF pension.

The prosecutor said concerns began to be raised in November 2022 when it became apparent that "the figures did not add up" and when questions were asked of the finance adviser he became evasive and "awkward".

Eventually Philpin told the charity's chief officer that he had taken £100,000 and he was instantly dismissed from his job.

An investigation was launched and the true scale of the fraud was uncovered.

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It also became apparent that the 57-year-old had been spending the stolen money on a "lavish lifestyle" which included five long-haul holidays, home renovations, and collecting limited edition coins, designer jewellery and watches as well as amassing a vast number of records.

The record collection is now valued at around £60,000.

In a statement, which was read to the court by the chairman of YMCA Port Talbot James Rogers, the impact of the offending was detailed.

Mr Rogers said the actions of the defendant had caused the organisation to lose its charitable status with the Charity Commission and left it on the edge of bankruptcy.

He said 28 members of staff now faced losing their jobs and the vulnerable people who relied on YMCA services faced losing their support and – in the case of 14 homeless men being housed by the organisation – their homes too.

He said the defendant had left the charity with "£2,000 in the bank three days before wages were to be paid".

The chairman added that the future of the YMCA's new base – the renovated Plaza in Port Talbot town centre – was now uncertain and he said the reputation of the organisation would suffer as a result of what Philpin, a trusted member of staff, had done.

Andrew Philpin, of Parc Wern, Skewen, Neath, had previously pleaded guilty to fraud when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.

Jon Tarrant, for Philpin, said the defendant understood the impact of his offending on the employees and on the users of the YMCA and was "entirely remorseful" for his actions.

He said the offending would also have consequences for the defendant's wife and their daughter.Judge Geraint Walters told Philpin he had abused his position of trust and had "systematically" stolen money from the YMCA in Port Talbot over a prolonged period, successfully covering his tracks and duping his wife and leaving the organisation in a "precarious financial position".

He said the defendant's dishonesty had called into the question the future of the YMCA's "pride and joy" – the newly-renovated and redeveloped Plaza community hub in Port Talbot – and meant services to some of the most disadvantaged people in the town, including people with alcohol and drug issues, the homeless, and youngsters with special educational needs, could not be provided.

He said the harm caused was one of the worst he had come across in a fraud case.With a one-quarter discount for his guilty plea Philpin was sentenced to five years in prison.

He will serve up to half that sentence in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.

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