The former chief executive of a disability charity has been sentenced to five years in prison for defrauding his charity's pension scheme of more than £250,000.
Patrick McLarry, who headed up Yateley Industries for the Disabled in Hampshire, pleaded guilty to the offence, which took place between April 2011 and September 2013, at which point Patrick McLarry was both chief executive and chairman of the charity. He was also director of the corporate trustee of the charity’s pension scheme.
During March 2012 and February 2013, McLarry transferred £256,127 from the charity scheme into bank accounts under his control.
According to TPR, he attempted to cover his tracks by forging a number of documents, lying to investigators and then refusing to hand over any evidence.
It is the second criminal conviction brought on Patrick McLarry by TPR, after he was ordered to pay £6,500 for refusing to give information linked to an investigation into unusual scheme investments.
Judge Andrew Barnett said McLarry had acted with 'appalling dishonesty and breach of trust', adding he had “milked the pension fund of considerable funds, spent entirely for your own needs and your wife”.
The prosecution was brought about by The Pensions Regulator (TPR), which will seek a confiscation order to force McLarry to give back the funds he took from the scheme.
He had admitted one charge of fraud at a court hearing in November, before attempting to change his plea to not guilty.
He also attempted to evade justice by forging documents, lying to the regulator's investigators about who owned the properties involved and refusing to hand over vital evidence.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey added: "Defrauding disabled people of their hard-earned pension savings is a despicable crime. I welcome today's sentence.
“This government will ensure that individuals who pocket people's retirement funds feel the full force of the law. To protect savers further we are introducing new laws, with a maximum jail term of seven years, for those who wilfully or recklessly endanger pensions.”
TPR executive director of frontline regulation, Nicola Parish, added: “Patrick McLarry held himself out as a pillar of the community. We were determined that he should face justice for defrauding pension savers.
“This sends a clear warning that we will use the full force of our powers and work with partner enforcement agencies to protect pension savers.”
The case was originally meant to be heard on 13 December, but was adjourned for "legal reasons".