Devon

Man jailed over £300,000 Help for Heroes fraud

Christopher Copeland. Pic: Apex Image copyright Apex
Image caption Christopher Copeland was caught when a volunteer became suspicious

A man who stole £300,000 intended for the charity Help for Heroes has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Christopher Copeland, 52, from Devon, gathered teams of fundraisers to collect donations from the public across England and Wales.

Copeland had admitted charges of fraud and concealing criminally-obtained property at a previous hearing.

The judge at Exeter Crown Court said Copeland's actions amounted to a serious breach of trust.

Volunteer tip-off

The court heard Copeland's teams used a fleet of ex-military vehicles, in Help for Heroes livery, and encouraged shoppers at large stores to put money into charity buckets.

He told his helpers he had given the money to the charity but put it in his own account, the court was told.

He was caught when one of the volunteers became suspicious and tipped off Devon and Cornwall Police. The force discovered almost nothing had been paid to the charity.

Sentencing, Judge Phillip Wassall said Copeland had shown no remorse for what the judge described as a "large-scale fraud of many members of the public".

He added that, given the "seriousness of the matter", the case should not dent the confidence of people wanting to donate to the charity.

Copeland faces having assets seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act to deprive him of any benefit from his fraud.

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