Founder caught stealing from animal rescue charity

29 May 2024 News

White piggy bank

Adobe Stock / Dilok

A man has been caught stealing from an animal rescue charity he founded and ordered to pay £4,600 in compensation following a court case.

St Albans Crown Court heard last week that Christopher Wicks had taken £19,410 from CW Wildlife since August 2021 to pay off his son’s drug debts, according to BBC News reports.

Prosecutor John Burke reportedly said Wicks admitted transferring the cash after being challenged by the Hertfordshire charity’s treasurer and another trustee.

The judge reportedly ordered Wicks to pay £4,600 in compensation to the charity at a rate of £100 a month and to abide by a night-time curfew for the next eight weeks.

Decision to leave charity

A statement from trustees in CW Wildlife’s recently filed accounts for the year to March 2022 states that there were “some unauthorised cash withdrawals” from its bank account via a debit card and “a large cheque which had been mentioned but not handed to the treasurer to bank”.

It said cash from Rickmansworth Canal Festival went “missing” and a fraudulent cheque was raised and attempted to be banked into a personal account.

“These findings were shared with the trustees in the meeting on 8 June 2022 and it was clear this needed to be addressed,” the statement signed by treasurer Nikki Woodley reads.

It says that they also found that cheques and cash had been paid into a Lloyds Bank account and utilised by Wicks personally.

“After a number of meetings between the trustees and concluding with a meeting with CW it was decided that he needed to leave the rescue,” it says.

“This then went on to further findings from a PayPal account which none of the trustees knew about and after gaining access it was found that amounts had been paid into another personal account of CW and not been used for the purposes of CWWR.”

It added that CW Wildlife, which was set up 10 years ago and registered in 2020, was discussing a potential merger with a second charity and that it would need to change its name to disassociate from Wicks.

Regulator assessing concerns

The Charity Commission said it was assessing concerns raised in the media about Wicks to inform its next steps.

“We expect anyone working with or for a charity to do so with integrity,” a spokesperson for the regulator said.

“Charities provide vital services that people donate to in good faith – it is essential that every penny goes where intended.”

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