Help for Heroes fraudster David Santini jailed

image copyrightMedia Lincs
image captionDavid Santini was wearing a mismatched military uniform when he was challenged by police

A bogus Help for Heroes collector who pocketed thousands of pounds while pretending to be a serving soldier has been jailed.

David Santini, 55, was caught while collecting donations at an antiques fair when police became suspicious about the style of his uniform.

Lincoln Crown Court heard he made almost £7,000 by posing as a legitimate collector for the charity.

He was jailed for 15 months after admitting two charges of fraud.

Santini, of North Drove, Quadring, Lincolnshire, came to the attention of police who were patrolling the antiques fair at Newark Showground in Nottinghamshire on 6 June 2014.

'People's affection'

An officer became suspicious of the uniform he was wearing and asked his for his armed forces identity card.

Edna Leonard, prosecuting, said: "At that point he said he didn't have one and tried to say that he hadn't said he was in the forces, but had been in the past.

"He was in the Army but was discharged in 1983," she told the court.

He also admitted conning £2,000 out of Patricia Taylor, a widow in her 70s, which she wanted to donate to a Lincolnshire-based veteran's charity.

Santini, who the court heard has a string of previous convictions for dishonesty, was also given a rent-free pitch for a paintball range near Skegness, which made about £2,000.

Passing sentence, Judge Simon Hirst told Santini he had made £6,806 by posing as a legitimate collector for Help for Heroes.

He told him his offences were further aggravated by his previous convictions.

"You are a man with a history of using people's affection for the armed forces to assist your dishonesty," he said.

In mitigation, the court heard the cash collected at Newark was with police and Mrs Taylor's money had been paid back to her.

At a previous hearing had Santini admitted two charges of fraud between June and October 2014 and a charge of theft from Mrs Taylor.

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