No jail term for Halifax man who stole £10,000 from children’s charity

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A Halifax man who stole almost £10,000 from a charity has been spared jail.

Lee McKone, 36, of Rochdale Road, was convicted of defrauding the Northorpe Hall Trust, Mirfield, where he worked as the main chef, at Leeds Crown Court.

The court heard that the father-of-three was given a company credit card to buy catering supplies but would use it to claim cashback, pocketing £100 on transactions that cost just £10.

The deception took place over a 20-month period between 2009-2010 and only surfaced when accounts that should have been in profit were found to be in the red.

Prosecutor Imran Khan said: “This only came to light after limited profits from the year prior had been £900 and in 2010 their profits were minus £3,500.”

Northorpe Hall Child and Family Trust questioned McKone, who admitted taking £221. It was deducted from his wages and he was dismissed.

But further investigations by the charity discovered that £9,585 was missing.

Mr Khan said: “Mr McKone admitted using the card for cash back. The amount of money was of high value to the charity.”

In a statement read out in court, staff at the charity, which supports children’s mental and emotional health, said they were “shocked” by the amount stolen, which could have provided support for at least 19 children and 18 volunteers for a year.

Mitigating, Kenneth Green said McKone, a recovering alcoholic, hadn’t been discovered sooner due to the “slapdash” book-keeping at the Trust, which has since been rectified.

He said: “It was inevitable he would be found out. The finger of suspicion pointed only to him.”

Mr Green added McKone - who pleaded guilty - had shown genuine remorse as well as offering to compensate to the charity.

Sentencing, Recorder Peter Babb said that due to the small size of the Trust, McKone had left them in financial difficulties.

He said: “I take into account you pleaded guilty at the first instance and you have shown genuine remorse. In particular, you are the main carer for your three young children.”

McKone was given a 12-month suspended sentence with 240 hours unpaid work.

He must pay £2,000 to the charity.