Wounded Warrior Project men accused of army charity con

Three men from Blackpool conned more than £330,000 from the public who believed they were donating to injured servicemen and women, a jury has heard.

William Knight, 51, John Wadsworth, 46, and Patrick Jarrett, 49, all deny conspiracy to defraud and possession of criminal property.

Preston Crown Court heard they pocketed money from selling raffle tickets for the Wounded Warrior Project UK Ltd.

The charges relate to sales between December 2009 and June 2010.

Sellers in military-style clothing sold tickets for £2.50 with the chance to win a prestige car or £10,000 in cash at high streets, shopping centres and event venues across the UK, the court heard.

Collections were also taken in buckets while tickets were sold from stalls.

The court was told more than 133,000 tickets were sold out of more than 180,000 printed and they generated sales of £332,707.

'Deliberately misled'

Prosecutors for Blackpool Council's Trading Standards department told the court none of the proceeds went anywhere near an injured serviceman or woman.

Ben Williams, prosecuting, said Mr Knight, of Midgeland Road; Mr Wadsworth, of Church Street and Mr Jarrett, of Teal Court, acted dishonestly to defraud the public.

He said: "The defendants agreed with one another to sell raffle tickets as a means of making money for themselves.

"None of the proceeds went anywhere near an injured serviceman or woman.

"All this was really done to make the purchaser believe that all or at least some of the £2.50 they handed over was going to this worthwhile cause. They were being deliberately misled."

An investigation began following a number of complaints, including one from charity Help for Heroes.

Help for Heroes had previously worked with Keystone Fundraising, the company which ran the competition for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), on a different competition draw but the charity later cuts its ties and said it did not want it collecting funds on its behalf, the jury was told.

Mr Knight and Mr Wadsworth were directors of both Keystone Fundraising and WWP and Mr Jarrett was also a director for a short time of Keystone Fundraising.

'Roaring trade'

Giving evidence, Elaine Farrier said she had bought two tickets from men in "army uniform" in the town centre of Skipton, Yorkshire.

She said the sellers were shouting "Help wounded British soldiers".

She told the court: "I went up to one of them and I asked if they were helping Help for Heroes and he said yes."

She thought it strange when she asked the vendor what regiment he served in and he did not reply.

"They were doing a roaring trade," she told the jury. "They gave the impression that they were representing the Army.

"I'm quite sure the person did say they were affiliated to Help for Heroes, definitely, otherwise I would not have purchased the ticket."

The trial continues.

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