Poppy Ap­peal thief turned in by his wife

Ex­clu­sive

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Big Bur­ton Back­lash - By Ai­dan Bar­low

A thief who stole hun­dreds of pounds from the Royal Bri­tish Le­gion was rum­bled by his wife who sus­pected him of pil­fer­ing funds.

Derek Rus­sell had been the Poppy Ap­peal or­gan­iser for Ash­ford from 2014 up to Novem­ber last year, a role which saw him hit the streets and knock on peo­ple’s doors to raise money to help exser­vice­men and their fam­i­lies.

But while he ap­peared to be a trust­wor­thy mem­ber of the Ash­ford branch, he was se­cretly tak­ing cash while other mem­bers of staff went to make tea or use the tele­phone.

The 53-year-old from Clover Court in Willes­bor­ough was caught af­ter his wife saw wads of cash in his wal­let, lead­ing to his ar­rest and theft charge.

Rus­sell, who has re­cently b e c o me u n e mp l o y e d , ap­peared at Folke­stone Mag­is­trates’ Court last week where he pleaded guilty to steal­ing £605 from the cof­fers of the char­ity.

Pros­e­cu­tor Neil Sweeney said Rus­sell’s wife sus­pected him af­ter see­ing wads of cash in his wal­let, which was used to buy ex­pen­sive fire­works and a new Mi­crosoft mo­bile phone from the Car­phone Ware­house, de­spite his mea­gre in­come from Job Seek­ers Al­lowance.

Mr Sweeney said: “He was re­spon­si­ble for col­lect­ing money in tins and buck­ets and for the bank­ing of the money.

“His wife noted a large amount of cash in his wal­let and ques­tioned him about it. He said it was from a Ter­ri­to­rial Army pen­sion.

“A month later she saw him pur­chase two chil­dren’s dolls and prams and once again saw a num­ber of bank notes in his wal­let. She sus­pected it was from the Poppy Ap­peal.

“When Rus­sell was pressed by his wife he then said ‘well, they get plenty’. She told the pres­i­dent of the Ash­ford branch Peter Bishop, who checked the books.

“In the ledgers there was a dis­crep­ancy for the amount which had been col­lected and the amount which was paid into the bank ac­count.”

Po­lice charged fa­ther-ofthree Rus­sell on Novem­ber 18, and asked if his wife, who was the branch sec­re­tary, was in­volved, but he said she wasn’t.

When asked how he would steal the money with so many other vol­un­teers and branch mem­bers present he told them he took the cash when they went on tea breaks or took a tele­phone call.

Judge Justin Bar­ron told Rus­sell: “This of­fence is in­ex­pli­ca­ble. You are a man of 53 with no pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions. It’s an ob­vi­ous breach of pub­lic trust.”

He also warned Rus­sell that all pun­ish­ment op­tions would be con­sid­ered, in­clud­ing a pos­si­ble pri­son sen­tence, pend­ing a pro­ba­tion re­port into his char­ac­ter.

Rus­sell will re­turn to court to be sen­tenced later this month.

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, TN24 8JR or email ken­tish­ex­press@ thek­m­group.co.uk Derek Rus­sell who has ad­mit­ted steal­ing cash

from the Ash­ford Royal Bri­tish Le­gion

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