Tayside and Central Scotland

Veterans charity boss jailed for £60,000 fraud

James Reilly Image copyright Alan Richardson
Image caption James Reilly's solicitor said he had brought "shame and remorse" on his family

A man who stole £60,000 from the Dundee veterans charity he launched has been jailed for 13 months.

James Reilly, 66, from Balmullo in Fife, embezzled the money from the Tayforth Veterans Project between 24 February 2012 and 29 October 2013.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard that Reilly told police he was "up to my ears" in debt.

Following the case, a former volunteer at the charity described Reilly as "a pathological liar".

Reilly set up the charity in 2011, with television presenter Lorraine Kelly appearing at the launch in Dundee.

The charity had the aim of supporting former service personnel with mental health, housing, employment, training and benefits issues.

Depute fiscal Joanne Smith told the court that donations to the charity were deposited into an account that only Reilly had access to.

The prosecutor said that the charity's trustees seemed "unaware of their roles and responsibilities" and only held meetings annually.

Image caption Veterans and former volunteers at the charity attended the court to hear the verdict

Ms Smith said Reilly would get blank cheques signed by a trustee and "this raised suspicions".

She said: "He was often getting work done at home despite having no income."

Ms Smith said an investigation showed loan repayments were being made from the account, which Reilly was not entitled to carry out.

Following his arrest, Reilly told police he had done nothing wrong and blamed the state of the accounts on the former trustees.

Asked if he was in debt, Reilly replied: "I'm up to my ears in it."

Billy Boyle, defending, said: "There is an audit trail here, showing how stupid he was.

"There are no hidden vices here, like drinking or gambling.

"He has brought a great deal of shame and remorse on his family.

"This is a cataclysmic event and he is aware of your lordship's sentencing options.

"As a bomb disposal man he has been through worse than this and if it is a prison sentence, he will put his head down and get on with it."

Image caption Former soldier and charity volunteer Les Mason said Reilly was "a pathological liar"

Sheriff Alastair Brown said: "The sense of betrayal to your former comrades is evident looking at the public benches.

"The only appropriate sentence is one of imprisonment. Those betrayed would want it to be a long sentence

"That is a legitimate, but emotional reaction."

Speaking outside the court, Les Mason, a former volunteer at the charity said: "The man's a pathological liar.

"By pleading guilty, he kept the witnesses from going in the witness box and letting the judge know exactly what type of person he is, with no regard whatsoever for veterans."

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