North East Wales

Plas Madoc Communities First boss 'abused trust'

The Plas Madoc estate at Acrefair, Wrexham
Image caption Miriam Beard ran the Plas Madoc Communities First project at Wrexham

The head of a regeneration project paid hotel bills using money earmarked to help a deprived housing estate, a jury heard.

Miriam Beard, 55, abused her position as co-ordinator of Plas Madoc Communities First Project, Mold Crown Court was told.

Work on her home and materials were paid by the charity, it was claimed.

Mrs Beard, of Henllan, Denbighshire, and her husband James, 46, deny fraud and theft.

She is alleged to have "milked" the charity of more than £54,000 by dishonestly diverting money for her own benefit and that of her family, prosecutor Karl Scholz said.

He said that in November 2008, a "Plas Madoc Got Talent" competition was organised at the local leisure centre.

Her husband acted as compere and the celebrity judges were her son, model Darrell Kelly, and his partner Sinead Moynihan, a Hollyoaks actress.

Midnight

Mr Scholz alleged that a reservation was made for Mrs Beard at The Wild Pheasant, Llangollen, that night and the bill, including meals and drinks, came to £260.

It was invoiced to and paid for by the charity although the event finished at 22:00 GMT and she was not due to attend work the next day, it was alleged.

A further booking was made for two adults at the same hotel in February 2009.

Image caption James and Miriam Beard arriving at Mold Crown Court for a previous hearing

Once there, she extended the booking for two nights and the total cost was £713, again billed to the Communities First project.

The court was told she denied that she stayed there with her husband, but when shown an invoice which said they had been the guests, she said "whether I stayed there alone or not, it's the same price".

The jury also heard how bills for materials for a home extension had been put through the charity.

Youth club

It was alleged Mrs Beard arranged for the charity to issue her with a cheque for £354 for building blocks.

A digger had been hired for four days by Mr Beard with a bill of £361 sent to Plas Madoc Communities First.

It was alleged he later claimed he hired it for the creation of a park at the youth club at Plas Madoc, but when his wife told him they were not ready to do the work, he used it at his home.

Mr Scholz told the court that funding for that project had not been applied for at that stage.

Mrs Beard denies 12 charges of fraud in a position of trust and one of joint theft with her husband.

Her husband denies eight charges, six charges of fraud and two of theft.

The trial continues.

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