Man jailed for stealing from charity for dying baby

Tyler Furness
Image caption Tyler Furness was born three months prematurely

A man from Manchester who befriended a dying boy's family so he could steal money raised for a hospital unit has been jailed for two years.

Stephen Whittaker, 37, of Felton Avenue, Benchill, befriended the baby's family and then stole at least £800.

The fundraising was inspired by Tyler Furness, who was born prematurely and died in March, shortly after his first birthday, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Whittaker had admitted three counts of theft at an earlier hearing.

Tyler's family, from Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, set up a charity to raise money for the neo-natal unit at Wythenshawe Hospital and Whittaker offered to help them, but did not pass on the money he raised.

'Blatantly dishonest'

Tyler's mother, Kelly, said: "Not only did we have to grieve for our son, but we had to go through the heartache of finding out that someone had stolen from our poorly boy's charity.

"It was horrible."

As he sentenced Whittaker, Judge David Hernandez said what he had done was "blatantly dishonest" and "despicable".

He said it would never be known exactly how much money had been stolen.

PC Phil Gurton, who worked on the investigation, said Whittaker had also pursued other charities, including Barnardo's, and The Christie specialist cancer hospital.

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