Dad who plundered motorcycle club's charity donation loses appeal

Bike club’s money was supposed to pay for sick child to swim with dolphins but dad spent it instead

A DAD who plundered £3,500 raised by a motorcycle club for his terminally ill daughter has lost his appeal against a three-year jail term.

The Sussex British Motorcycle Owners Club made Ashanti Elliott-Smith, who suffers from a premature ageing disease, its fund-raising mission of the year in 2010.

The club donated a cheque written out to the girl’s father Albi Elliot to pay for her to swim with dolphins.

But the money was instead spent by Elliott, with records showing extensive card payments and withdrawals from his account.

Elliott took his case to the Court of Appeal yesterday hoping to reduce a three-year jail sentence for fraud handed to him at Chichester Crown Court in June last year.   

But appeal judges said the 45-year-old from Heathfield in East Sussex deserved the full term for his ‘gross abuse of trust’.

Elliott’s lawyers argued the sentence was longer than those given in other fraud cases and prevented the dad seeing his daughter, who was 11 at the time of the trial.

Refusing the appeal, Mr Justice Walker said: ‘Betrayal of the trust of his own young daughter called for a severe sentence.

‘So did the betrayal of the trust of other family members and friends who had worked hard to secure donations from others.

‘So did the betrayal of the trust of members of the motorcycle association who had, out of the goodness of their hearts, donated and raised a total of £3,500 for Ashanti.

‘Most acutely of all, the consequences of his offending, tending to damage public confidence in those who seek money for charitable causes, undoubtedly called for a severe sentence.

‘We have no doubt that the sentence of three years’ imprisonment fully allowed for Elliott’s personal mitigation.’

The Sussex British Motorcycle Owners club gave Elliott a cheque for £3,500 in December 2010, payable to him at his request. The club contacted the police the following February after Ashanti's mother Phoebe Smith said she knew nothing of the donation. 

The club has a full account of the episode on its website.

It says: 'When then Club was started in 1986 one of the main objectives was the raising of funds for disadvantaged children and that has remained so throughout the life of the Club. Just to reassure Club members regarding our charity fund-raising, following this incident we changed the club rules to state that we would only donate to a local registered children’s charity and for the past three years our donations have gone to the Camelia Botnar Children’s Centre in Worthing.'

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