Lewis Edge fund: Suicide teen's charity thief sentenced

Lewis Edge Image copyright Lewis Edge - The Brightest Star
Image caption Following the death of Lewis Edge, his parents started to receive donations in his memory

A man has been given a suspended sentence after stealing from a charity set up in memory of a 14-year-old who took his own life.

Mark Faulkner, 26, of Dykin Road in Widnes, was found guilty of stealing almost £1,200 from the 'Lewis Edge − The Brightest Star fund′ following a trial at Warrington Crown Court.

Faulkner was given a six month sentence suspended for two years.

He was told he must pay back all of the money to the memorial fund.

He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service.

Following the death of Lewis Edge, his parents Lisa Millward and Graeme Edge started to receive donations in his memory.

Faulkner befriended the family and assisted them in the setting up of a memorial fund bank account, Cheshire Police said.

'Preyed on family'

A number of small charity events were staged in Widnes and the money raised was paid into the memorial fund.

Faulkner was entrusted to pay cheques into the account and on two occasions in October 2012, he was asked to collect two separate amounts of cash and pay it into the bank.

Lewis′ mother later became suspicious when a bank statement revealed there were fewer funds in the account than expected.

When she pointed out the issue with the lack of funds, Faulkner sent her a text message claiming to have paid both amounts of cash into the bank.

Concerns were raised with Cheshire Police and, in November 2012, officers attended Faulkner′s home and asked to see the bank book. This was subsequently seized and Faulkner was arrested.

The two cash deposits were never made, and CCTV from the bank showed Faulkner did not enter the bank between the dates given, said police.

He denied stealing the money, maintaining he had paid it into the bank.

Det Con Marc Roberts said: "Faulkner targeted Lewis′ family at a time when they were grieving" and he had "preyed on their vulnerability" using the stolen money "to line his own pockets".

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