Charity boss who spent £ 30,000 on donations must pay back every penny, judge says

A charity executive will have to repay every penny of the £ 30,000 she spent on KFC, Nandos and Pizza Hut even if it takes ten years, a judge ruled.

Tanya Gilbert, 45, has spent £ 20 a day for more than three and a half years on herself using funds donated to Dimensions UK, a charity that supports adults with learning disabilities.

As the community’s deputy manager, she was given a corporate credit card to spend for most of the essentials in 2015, but used it to pay for vacations with her three children.

Gilbert confessed that she spent £ 28,238 on items for herself, which made her managers question why budgets were so strained.

Defending Gilbert, Adam King said she had to “put food on the table” for her children.

Tanya Gilbert (pictured), 45, has spent £ 20 a day for over three and a half years on herself using funds donated to Dimensions UK, a charity that supports adults with learning disabilities

But Judge Emma Nott said: “It’s more than trips to Asda, she wasn’t buying 20p cans of beans, was she?” It was for her children when it should have been for the vulnerable young adults in her care.

The court heard that when the thefts started Gilbert was undergoing treatment for kidney cancer while his 14-year-old daughter was a patient at Great Ormond Street Hospital, also suffering from kidney problems.

Mr King said: “She is someone who has suffered a lot. She is a single mother of three and 2015 has been a nightmare year for her.

“She wasn’t lounging, it’s not one of those luxury vacation handbags and suitcases, it’s supermarkets, shops and travel.

He said she “does not lead a luxury life” and is now employed as a housekeeper.

“Her children are not young and they are not doing well; he added. “Her 17-year-old son needs to be evaluated for autism and her two older daughters suffer from psychosis and depression. They are not a happy family.

Gilbert admitted a misrepresentation fraud charge at Reading Crown Court.

Judge Emma Nott said: “Dimensions UK was your employer, a non-profit charity that provides essential services to vulnerable young adults with disabilities. From 11 September 2015 until 5 April 2019 you were flying regularly and you were prioritizing for the needs of your own family.

“The money should have been spent on the essentials and the odd luxuries for these young adults who had a history of poverty.

“Instead, you took your family to McDonald’s, Nando’s, and Pizza Hut, took them to the movies, Warner Brothers studios, and bowling.

“You’ve stolen almost £ 30,000 and all you’ve done since being exposed is try to avoid the consequences.”

The judge criticized Gilbert for being “full of self-pity” despite the theft against “the most vulnerable”.

Gilbert admitted a misrepresentation fraud charge at Reading Crown Court (pictured)

Gilbert admitted a misrepresentation fraud charge at Reading Crown Court (pictured)

She added, “You had no respect for the young adults with learning disabilities that you were dealing with, but this court will consider your young adult children. It is for their own good that I am going to take an exceptional stand in this matter.

Gilbert, from Bracknell in Berkshire, has been given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years and she will have to pay back every penny of the money she stole.

“I don’t care if it takes you 10 years,” the judge added.

A spokesperson for Dimensions UK said: “This fraud was discovered through internal financial processes. We are satisfied with the outcome of the case.

Dimensions UK was founded in 1976 and boasts humble beginnings, with only one phone in a rented office.

Their website states, “Forty years later, our work is fundamentally unchanged: We help people with learning disabilities and autism have a stronger voice, choice and control in their lives.

“Our 7,000 colleagues provide ambitious, effective and personalized support, often with those whose previous support has not been successful. Together, we continue to prove that life can really get better.

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