Swindon AdvertiserThief who stole thousands of pounds from charity walks free...to go on holiday (From Swindon Advertiser)

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Thief who stole thousands of pounds from charity walks free...to go on holiday

Swindon Advertiser: Steven Rowland walked free from Swindon Crown Steven Rowland walked free from Swindon Crown

A ‘DESPICABLE’ charity thief who plundered thousands from the coffers of a fund for the disabled has walked free from court and been allowed to take a two-week holiday.

Steven Rowland abused his position to steal money which was meant for an organisation supporting parents with disabilities.

The 23-year-old, who now works as an insurance claims advisor, created false documents to siphon cash into girlfriends’ accounts.

And when he was caught he denied any wrongdoing until the day of the trial, when he finally capitulated and admitted what he had been doing.

Tessa Hingston, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court that in 2011 Rowland was working at Charity Business Ltd on Kembrey Park.

The firm provided back office services for various charities and he was one of three on the contract for charity The Disabled Persons Network.

His supervisor could sign off payments up to £5,000 and he drew up false invoices for him to sign to make payments to two girlfriends, who then gave him the cash.

In July 2011 he transferred £4,950 and then a few months later in October he moved £3,506.44p.

Rowland, who lives at home with his parents on Northampton Street, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and not guilty to one.

The third charge involved £4,501.69 going into the account of Shawn Grant, 28, of Thorney Park, Wroughton, who in 2012 admitted retaining a wrongful credit.

Tony Bignall, defending, said his client was deeply ashamed of what he did three years ago when he was 19 and 20 years old.

He said he is now working as a claims advisor on weekdays and with a bank of carers at the weekends, making him unable to do unpaid work.

Mr Bignall said he was also the sole carer for his paternal grandmother – getting her up, feeding her, cleaning her, and putting her to bed.

Recorder Maria Lamb said: “I get the impression that you regard your dealings with this court as something of a trade off.

“This is a despicable piece of behaviour. If you were in any doubt about it before today let there be no doubt now.

“You were in a trusted position, you were one of three people in a position to deal with the finds of a charity, a charity to which other people had donated.

“You plundered the funds, not once but twice, for your own selfish and greedy motives.

“Fortunately you were limited by the size of the transactions available from the charity.

“By your deviousness you allowed the cloud of suspicion, albeit briefly, to fall on other members of your team.

“I find it very hard to find a scintilla of remorse in your attitude towards the behaviour with which you were involved in.

"I think probably the only mitigation in your case is I think the care you give to a family member.

“Prison is richly deserved in your case. Were it not for the fact that you have not reoffended in the intervening period, that is where you would be going.”

She imposed a 16 month jail term suspended for two years, payment of £1,000 compensation, 21 hours at an attendance centre and a three month 10pm to 6am curfew.

However the restriction was lifted between August 9 and August 25 so he can go on holiday.

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