Ex Cotswold Water Park Society boss jailed for fraud

image captionDennis Grant took more than £660,000 from the water park trust

The chief executive of a water park society has been jailed after admitting fraud totalling more than £660,000.

Dennis Grant, 63, of Banbury, Oxfordshire, paid money that should have gone to the Cotswold Water Park Society into his own account.

One of the transfers into his account totalled £299,000 while others of more than £100,000 were also paid.

He was sentenced to four years and four months at Gloucester Crown Court.

'Avoid the situation'

The offences occurred between November 2006 and January 2009.

Natasha Flaherty, the society's financial officer, originally discovered the fraud after a loan was not paid.

She said when he was first confronted he "very much tried to avoid the situation".

"He was saying 'how can we resolve this and what can we do to actually settle the situation'?

"I think the hope was it could be sorted very quickly and disappear."

Matthew Millett, the park trust's managing director, said Grant was a "very difficult person to fathom".

"He very much worked alone and it was always very difficult to gauge what his motivations exactly were."

Det Con Barb Banning, from Gloucestershire Police, said the result followed a "long and meticulous investigation".

"Mr Grant's actions deprived the Gloucestershire community of commercial funding for a charity dedicated to maintaining and improving the Cotswold Water Park for the people of the county and its wildlife.

image captionThe water park is made up of more than 140 lakes between Swindon and Cirencester

"We are pleased with today's result and that justice has been done."

Nick Hanson, the society's former finance director, was also arrested but died of a heart attack last year at his home in Coventry.

The water park is located between Cirencester and Swindon and is made up of more than 140 lakes created from former quarry sites.

In March this year, the management of the Cotswold Water Park Society was officially handed over to a charitable organisation.

The new Cotswold Water Park Trust has now taken over the running of part of the lakes tourist attraction and conservation area.

Mr Millett added some organisations had decided against funding the trust after the fraud case.

"It's not surprising that some funders who might have funded us have decided to hold fire and that's something that is very understandable.

"What I'd like to think is that given our new sense of direction we can repair that and get them back on board."

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