A criminal gang pocketed £45,000 they claimed to be collecting on behalf of Help for Heroes.

The fraudsters registered with the charity to obtain material which would convince the public they were legitimate collectors. They then targeted football stadiums, concert halls, public events, train stations and bars across the north of England. Prosecutors believe thousands of people were duped in just three months. Even police officers parted with their spare change thinking it was going to wounded servicemen and women, Newcastle crown court heard.

Natalie Hornby, 39, of Nunthorpe, Middlesbrough, was convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and was jailed for 30 months. Jacqueline Newham, 57, of Droylsden, Manchester, was jailed for 16 months, Ellen Grant, 45, of Prestwich, Manchester, received 15 months and Lydia Cummerson, 41, of Booths-town, Salford, was given 12 months. Hornby’s husband Robert, 41, also of Nunthorpe, admitted a minor part in the fraud and was given a four month suspended sentence.

The court heard the offences took place between November 2009 and February 2010.
Judge Brian Forster said he had viewed CCTV from a Newcastle pub which showed the gang carrying out the collections.

Calling the fraud ‘a scandal and a disgrace’, he added: ‘What stood out to me was that nearly everyone in the public house was willing to make a donation.
They were all thinking they were giving money to help the heroes of our country who have been wounded in service on behalf of us all.’

Words fail me. Our Servicemen and women risk their lives and these scum ‘steal’ money donated to ‘Help the Heroes’. I think that’ll disgust even their fellow prisoners. I certainly hope it does. Scum!