Charity thief gets prison term

A sophisticated thief who stole �19,000 from the Big Lottery Fund and Flybe airline has been jailed for 18 months.

A sophisticated thief who stole �19,000 from the Big Lottery Fund and Flybe airline has been jailed for 18 months.At Exeter Crown Court, Judge Graham Cottle described Victoria Hayward's behaviour as "breath-taking dishonesty, resulting in substantial loss."The judge said she had set up a charity for disease sufferers but none of them had seen a penny piece of the money. It had all been spent by Hayward and her mother, mainly in Spain and on household luxuries.Prosecutor David Evans said, after leaving university, Hayward had obtained a job with the Big Lottery Awards for All scheme. She had then set up her own charity and applied for a grant. She was given �9,300 for the charity but almost immediately started siphoning off funds and went to live in Spain with her mother.When the money ran out after seven months, she came back to this country and got a job with Flybe. There she fabricated refunds and channelled the money through two credit cards belonging to her boyfriend and one to her mother. Another �9,500 went missing from Flybe, before irate customers started complaining they had not received entitled refunds.Mr Evans said, when the police were hot on the trail, Hayward contacted her mother and told her to spend the remaining �6,000 which was left and by the time she was actually caught that money had disappeared as well.The prosecutor said all the money had gone and not a penny had been repaid. In the case of the Big Lottery, she involved a fellow worker who was installed as chairman and she tried to blame him when the heat was on. He is now having to repay the money because he was an officer of the charity.Hayward, of Pilot Wharf, Victoria Road, Exmouth, pleaded guilty to five offences of theft from the Big Lottery Fund and five of fraud against Flybe.Sending her to prison Judge Cottle said: "This was a sustained and blatant course of dishonesty, planned and sophisticated and every penny went into yours or you mother's pocket. You desperately tried to blame others while spending the money in Spain. It gives me no pleasure to send you to prison but there is no alternative.