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Council boss stole pounds 24,000; Homeless charity went bankrupt as funds siphoned off.

Byline: ALISON DAYANI

The former leader of a Worcestershire council has admitted stealing thousands from a charity for the homeless, forcing it to collapse.

David Cartwright, the 52-year-old exleader of Redditch Borough Council and former Labour councillor for Redditch Greenlands, has pleaded guilty to a catalogueof theft and deception charges at Hereford Crown Court.

Cartwright, of Donnington Close, Church Hill South, Redditch, admitted stealing at least pounds 24,695 belonging to the StepOut Drop In charity, ofwhichhe was project director, between January 2003 andDecember 2005.

The court heard on Tuesday the dignitary dishonestly obtained by deception pounds 21,118 for Step Out Drop In between June 1997 and June 1998, by falsely claiming to the Department of Environment, Transport and Regions the charity was eligible for a grant to employ a person called Richard Jacobs.

Cartwright's other crimes included dishonestly obtaining by deception two money transfers totalling more than pounds 37,300 from Redditch Council's Community Works for the charity by submitting false invoices between February 2000 and July 2001 and dishonestly obtainingpounds 5,000forStepOutDrop In by sending a false invoice from Highcross Builder to the EvesonsCharitable Trust, between October 2000 and April 2001.

Step Out Drop In was formed in 1998 to bring relief to poverty-stricken and homeless youngsters in Worcestershire.

But the charity collapsed in September 2005 with debts estimated to be more than pounds 380,000, despite having an income of more than pounds 260,000 in 2003.

Cartwright's dealings with Step Out Drop In sparked a police investigation by West Mercia Constabulary's economic crime unit.

Detective Constable Andy Moseley, from the economic crime unit, said: In this case, the victims are those homeless and vulnerable peoplewho stood to benefit from this charity but found themselves looking elsewhere for support and assistance when Mr Cartwright's criminal activity inevitably led to its collapse."

A Charity Commission probe in 2006 found a catalogue of discrepancies by Cartwright, who had total control of the finances, with trustees appearing oblivious. It emerged Cartwright, who was Labour leader of Redditch Council until 2005, was signing cheques into his personal bank accounts.

The ex leader, who quit when the allegations surfaced, claimed the cash was for salary and bonuses he was owed, despite the inquiry revealing he had already been paid what was due to him.

Cartwright used the cash to fund two cars, money he claimed he was paying back, but the inquiry found no evidence. Inspectors discovered the charity's accounts contained misleading information a pounds 134,000 Big Lottery grant was held in reserve,when it had been used to buy a house in South Street, Redditch. A mortgage had been taken out on that property to release capital.

Mr Justice Hooper adjourned the case and released Mr Cartwright on bail to attend Hereford Crown Court on February 27 for sentencing.

A Redditch Council spokeswoman said: "All the Council's financial policies and procedures were followed in our dealings with Mr Cartwright. We genu
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 15, 2009
Words:492
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