Sound man stole thousands from charity

David Stevenson (s)

David Stevenson (s)

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An X-Factor sound man, who stole almost £10,000 from a Burnley charity he was working for, has been jailed.

David Stevenson, a freelance light and sound engineer, used the Brunshaw Action Group’s debit card to treat himself to an Audi sports car, a caravan and a holiday in Cornwall.

Throughout 2013 and 2014, Stevenson clocked up £9,850 in personal spending which had no benefit to the group, which supports disadvantaged youngsters in Burnley.

Judge Simon Newell, sentencing, said: “The monies that were stolen were not to fund any necessities of life.”

Preston Crown Court heard Stevenson, of Williams Road, Burnley, first became involved with the group as a volunteer but by the time he committed the offences he was managing the day to day running of the group.

But in May 2014, the housing association which owned the premises contacted Bea Foster, a local councillor and trustee of the group, informing her a number of bills had not been paid.

Mrs Foster reviewed the accounts and asked Stevenson (33) to provide financial reports in accordance with his role.

When the reports were not forthcoming, another trustee, Paula Bailey carried out a detailed analysis of the books and discovered a number of payments which could not be for the charity’s use.

Stevenson had spent £1,500 on a car, £1,100 on a holiday, £1,100 on a caravan, £1,000 on fishing equipment and numerous other smaller payments on takeaways, petrol and traffic fines.

On October 7th 2014 the trustees called a meeting and asked the manager for an explanation.

He admitted he had taken the money and vowed to repay what he had spent.

But Kath Johnson (prosecuting) said: “All that was returned was the Audi, which was sold for £540, some fishing equipment, an iPad and £350 cash.”

Stevenson pleaded guilty to theft totalling £9,850 between January 2013 and December 2014.

Reading her victim impact statement in court, Bea Foster said: “This came as a complete surprise that Dave had taken this money without permission and at first I couldn’t believe it.

“As a result of Dave’s actions the charity has had to suspend its operation and as it stands we owe thousands and thousands in grant money.

“Both myself and the other trustees are responsible for this money.

“As a result of this I have had many sleepless nights, lots of crying and have only survived due to family and friends supporting me.

“It has been one of the most awful, horrible experiences of my life. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

“I considered Dave to be a friend of mine. He has not only let me down and himself down but he has let down the charity and all the young people who would have benefitted from it.”

Guy Mathieson (defending) told the court Stevenson was suffering personal difficulties at the time he committed the offences and knew he had let everybody down.

He said: “Once that has happened it becomes very difficult to come clean.”

Stevenson has now left the charity and has secured work as a light and sound engineer with roles including setting up the X-Factor audition equipment and work on other TV shows.

But Judge Simon Newell, sentencing, said Stevenson had the opportunity to repay some of the money he had stolen and had not taken it.

He said: “You did not admit the full amount. Matters were resolved at £9,850. Court proceedings took in excess of a year when in all likelihood, if you had co-operated with the system they could have been resolved in a matter of a few months.

“They weren’t, and that is equally harrowing and disturbing for those who have responsibility for the money that was taken.”

He jailed Stevenson for 15 months.