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Mum’s horror at fraudster’s charity theft
THE mother of a young boy who needed specialist cancer treatment says she is ‘devastated’ by a fraudster who stole cash from fundraising appeal for her son.
Kevin Wright was convicted of 10 counts of theft and two of fraud by false representation and sentenced to five years in jail at Nottingham Crown Court on Thursday.
Jurors heard that significant sums of money were donated to the appeals Wright set up including one to help Swindon boy Callum Kaye, but that little of the cash went towards treatment.
Instead the money, which totalled almost £1m, was spent on covering the charity overheads and funding Wright’s ‘interests, investments and personal lifestyle’.
An appeal fund was set up for Callum in 2007 and members of the community rallied around to donate to his cause.
Speaking after Wright was convicted, Callum’s mum Anna Kaye said: “It’s hard to believe someone could do this to families with sick children.
“We have always tried to do what’s best for Callum and words cannot describe the feeling we have knowing how he was used.
“It has affected us all a great deal, we are devastated.
“We would like to thank everyone for all of the support they have given us.
“Now we can try to move on and put this nightmare behind us.”
The court heard that Wright set up a string of appeals following the success of charities established to help his own son, Bobby.
Wright set up Bobby’s Fund and The Bobby Wright Cancer Fighting Fund after his son, then aged three, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, neuroblastoma, in April 2005.
The money was to be used to treat Bobby at a specialist centre in the US but, when it was decided the youngster no longer needed treatment, Wright turned his attention to helping raise money for other children with cancer.
The judge said it was these appeals set up for Callum, Armani Mohammad and Jessica Magnus which were ‘fraudulent from the outset’.
Wright told the public the money raised would be used to treat the youngsters at a specialist centre in New York.
However, none of the children was treated at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre and little of the money raised was spent on their treatment.
Callum, who had a brain tumour, needed to raise approximately £300,000 for treatment.
Nottinghamshire Police Detective Sergeant Susan Howell, who led the investigation, said: “Those donating towards his appeals had a right to expect that the money would be used for the stated purpose of the appeals.
“The parents of the children who were subject of the appeals trusted Wright to operate the appeals in an honest and lawful manner. Their trust was abused.”
Wright, of Tidcombe Lane, Tiverton, Exeter, misled the families about the amount raised through the appeals and stole a total of £171,500 in donations from the Bobby Wright Cancer Fighting Fund for his own son, as well more than £749,340 from the three appeals he set up to raise money for Callum, Armani and Jessica.
DS Howell said: “The families of the children were highly vulnerable.
“The public were also vulnerable in that they were the subject of a direct approach with a message of urgent need for help for children who would otherwise not survive.
“Wright funded his lifestyle, a number of personal and business investments, and used the money for purposes the public would never have envisaged.
“He not only misused donations he secured through appeals he operated, he also stole funds that were donated by registered charities for the specific purpose of funding treatment at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.”