FOOD BANK CASH MAN SPARED JAIL
Guilty of fraud and theft
A COUNCILLOR who stole from a food bank has been spared an immediate jail term.
Daniel Meredith ap Eifion Jones, from Amlwch, had initially denied the charges and was due to stand trial at Caernarfon Crown Court.
The lack of court time meant the trial was not going to proceed on Wednesday, but his barrister Gareth Roberts asked for the charges to be put again and the 39-year-old pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and theft.
Jailing him for 13 weeks on each charge, but suspending the sentence for 12 months, Judge Huw Rees said Jones, who is a member of Amlwch Town Council and a former Welsh Assembly candidate, had lost his good name.
“That is a punishment in itself and is a substantial fall from grace for you,” he said.
“You have the good sense to plead guilty, although you should have done so earlier.
“It is your previous good character which has saved you from an immediate custodial sentence.”
Jones must also carry out 150 hours of unpaid work during the next year.
Prosecutor Elen Owen said Jones was among a group of people who set up the Anglesey Food Bank in Amlwch during 2013.
Jones became the manager of the food bank, which relied entirely on volunteers.
“In early 2015, Jones announced a £300,000 grant had been secured from the Big Lottery Fund, which would allow the organisation to secure permanent premises,” said Ms Owen. “Two officials, Roy Jones and Bronwen Westlake, made advance payments on the proviso they would be paid back when the grant was paid.
“A bank statement showed a substantial amount had been paid into the group’s bank account.”
But enquiries by Ms Westlake found the Big Lottery Fund had never received an application for funding and no deposit had been made at the bank.
Ms Owen said Jones had received £335 from the officials to buy a carpet, but enquiries revealed the cost was some £175 less. Cash given by the officials to pay for a meter and for insurance had not been used for those purposes.
The money paid by them – £614 – related to the theft charges.
Arrested and interviewed by officers in February last year, Jones denied the offences and claimed he himself had been the victim of a scam.
Gareth Roberts, defending, said Jones was not the type of man who would ordinarily appear before the courts.
“This has cost him his good name and brought him great shame and embarrassment,” he said.
“I ask the court to accept his remorse is genuine and that this will be his one and only time before a court.”
Jones stood as an independent candidate in last year’s Assembly elections in the Anglesey constituency.
He was also shortlisted by the Labour Party as a candidate for the 2013 by-election.
The court heard he became a member of Amlwch Town Council last November and regularly attends meetings.
Daniel Meredith ap Eifion Jones