Northern Ireland

Adrianne Peltz gets suspended sentence over Dogs Trust Fraud

adrianne peltz
Image caption Adrianne Peltz admitted using a Dogs Trust credit card for personal expenditures

A high-profile campaigner, who admitted defrauding an animal charity of more than £5,000, has been given a suspended sentence.

Adrianne Peltz, 34, of Beatrice Road in Bangor, pleaded guilty to using a Dogs Trust credit card for personal expenditure while working for the charity.

The offences took place between 11 April and 10 October 2017.

The amount of money involved in the fraud totalled £5,393.22.

The court heard Peltz was issued with a credit card while working as campaigns manager for Dogs Trust NI.

Ballymena Magistrates' Court was told that after her contract was terminated, the charity made numerous requests for receipts to explain expenditure made on the card that was not related to the charity, but they were not forthcoming.

'Classic fall from grace case'

Peltz's defence barrister said his client had been experiencing "personal difficulties" at the time of the offences, linked to her teenage daughter and the ill health of her mother, for whom she is a carer.

It was heard she had used the credit card to make "online purchases" and had "strayed beyond" the company use it was meant for.

The barrister said: "This is a classic fall from grace case.

"This is an industrious lady who held a number of public roles but that's all come crashing down. Her reputation and good character is gone.

"She is ashamed by her actions, they are inexcusable."

He added that Peltz had recently married and was unemployed.

He said: "She intends to pick herself up, get a job and pay this money back."

It was also heard that Peltz is considering moving from her home after being "shunned" by the community.

'Mean spirited offence'

The district judge said it was a "mean spirited offence".

He said Peltz's actions had a "traumatic effect" on her former colleagues.

He added: "There is an element of public shame which is attached to such a high profile loss of face".

He sentenced Peltz to six months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered her to pay compensation of £5,393.22 to the Dogs Trust.

After pleading guilty to fraud, Peltz stepped down from her position on the board of trustees of Victim Support NI.

She also resigned from her role as regional co-ordinator of Politics Plus, which provides support to MLAs at Stormont.

Peltz was a campaigner for Amnesty International in Northern Ireland and has also frequently appeared as a media commentator.

When asked by the BBC outside court if she would like to apologise to the Dogs Trust charity, Peltz replied: "No comment".

A Dogs Trust spokesperson said in a statement that it relies "on the enormous generosity of the public to help us care for over 15,000 dogs every year and we do all we can to ensure funds are used wisely".

"This was a rare situation for us and we took appropriate steps at the time to recover the funds where we could, but what's important is that following today's hearing more of the money will be returned to us and put back into the vital work that we do," they added.

"We would like to thank the police for their prompt assistance in this matter.

"We respect the decision of the court and are pleased to draw this issue to a close."