Help for Heroes fraud by soldier

Crime:Latest news.
Crime:Latest news.

A FORMER soldier who claimed to be collecting cash for the Help for Heroes charity raked in £600 with a door-to-door sponsorship scam.

A jail sentence hangs over Simon Carline who duped donors by showing them an army photo identity card he should have returned to the forces.

Chesterfield magistrates heard Carline - discharged from the army in 2009 on medical grounds - conned families in the Chesterfield, Derby and Mansfield areas.

He targeted wealthier residential areas to raise more cash and altered figures on donations lists to pressure people into giving more generously.

Police were alerted and Carline initially claimed the fundraising venture had been organised by him and other army colleagues, though he could not name them.

“He said he put the money into his own bank account and then transferred it across to Help for Heroes,” said Becky Mahon, prosecuting.

But he later confessed to downloading sponsorship forms from the charity’s website with no intention of handing over any cash.

Carline, of Park Road, Chesterfield, appeared before the court on his 21st birthday and admitted fraud by purporting to be a registered charity collector and fraudulently possessing a British Army ID card. The offences took place at Holymoorside between July 25 and August 7.

District Judge Andrew Davison jailed him for 24 weeks but suspended the sentence for a year. Carline was also ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work and pay £600 compensation to the charity, with £85 costs.

“It was a confidence breach using an ID card that wasn’t yours to use.

“You were preying on the good nature of the unsuspecting public to support brave members of the armed forces and you used subtle pressure to get them to contribute more,” Mr Davison told him.

Probation officer Gerry Starnes told the court: “He says he had debts of £3,000.

“He had lost his employment and was on benefit and he was struggling. He visited the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Law Centre for help and advice but this wasn’t beneficial and he resorted to crime.

“He says he realises people are going to be disgusted by the offence and he would like to apologise to every victim.”

Carline’s solicitor, Annette Thomas, said he had no previous convictions.

She added: “He is ashamed. He feels remorseful and he is heartbroken by what he has done. Half of his debt is rent arrears and he faces eviction on December 1.”