Charity boss ‘betrayed public confidence in the sector’, says judge

Colin Nesbitt, the founder and director of former children’s cancer charity Little Heroes Cancer Trust, has been sentenced to 20 months in prison after being found guilty of fraud and theft earlier this year.

Nesbitt was found to have stolen £87,000 from the charity and transferring £181,000 into his bank account between July 2014 and May 2015.

Passing sentence at Bradford Crown Court Judge Jonathan Gibson said Nesbitt had “betrayed the public and the public confidence in this charity and the charity sector”.

Some of the stolen funds have been recovered by police but a separate ‘proceeds of crime hearing’, to find the remainder of the missing money is scheduled for December this year.

Nesbitt’s sentence has been welcomed by the Charity Commission, which reported its concerns about the charity’s finances in 2015.

“The very serious criminal actions of Mr Nesbitt had devastating consequences, damaging the charity, its good work and name, as well as impacting significantly on the lives of those connected to it – including its former staff, volunteers and of course the children and their families who once benefitted from its services,” said Charity Commission assistant director for investigations and inquiries Tim Hopkins.

“The money the public generously donated to Little Heroes Cancer Trust was intended to make a crucial difference to children and their families and we understand why those who supported this charity will also feel let down by his actions.

“Through our work the Commission was able to help expose his criminal actions and I’m glad that some of the funds were recovered, which should go back to the causes they were intended for.”

The charity provided activity books for children in hospital as well as donated toys to children’s cancer hospitals.

Prior to its removal from the charity register in 2018 it had once featured on Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire show, where it received a £100,000 donation.

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