Two men who took around £75,000 from a bullying charity that they created have been convicted of fraud.
Action 4 Bullying was established by John Fisher and David Turner and registered with the Charity Commission.
The pair set up crowdfunding projects, recruited volunteers and secured grants totalling £122,000 over three years. The charity was awarded £26,457 from BBC Children in Need, £9,100 from Birmingham City Council, and £7,400 from West Midlands Police.
West Midlands Police said that Fisher posted a Facebook message in June 2015 that said “we are currently very low on funding” and urged people to dig deep for the cause.
The police have found low funds were due to Fisher’s “insatiable online gambling habit which he funded by helping himself to donations”.
Detectives found that between September 2014 and May 2017 he spent £31,621 playing online slots machines and other games.
Over the same dates, he transferred £37,501 from Action 4 Bullying and also gambled directly from the charity’s PayPal account.
Turner also transferred £24,787 into his own accounts. But in April 2017 he disclosed what was going on to another charity trustee who contacted West Midlands Police.
‘This was a charity designed to tackle bullying and help sufferers, but Fisher himself was a bully’
Investigating officer, detective constable Jade Southern, said: “Turner has experienced bullying and so wanted to set up a charity. He met Fisher via Facebook and he had the qualifications and know-how to get the project up and running.
“Turner was initially the founder but Fisher began to exert more influence and seized the title of project manager. There is no doubt Fisher intimidated Turner and when he was initially confronted over missing money he threatened to sack Turner.
“This was a charity designed to tackle bullying and help sufferers, but Fisher himself was a bully, intimidating Turner and seeing the charity as a revenue stream for himself.”
Both men were arrested in 2017 on suspicion of fraud by abuse of position.
Fisher was jailed for 30 months and Turner handed a 22-month prison term suspended for two years.
Action 4 Bullying was removed from the Charity Commission register on 28 June 2019.