Fraud­ster jailed for bid to cash in on tragic Lee Rigby

Yorkshire Post - - NEWS -

A “DE­SPI­CA­BLE” fraud­ster who failed to hand over more than £20,000 raised for the son of mur­dered Yorkshire soldier Lee Rigby has been jailed.

Lorry driver Gary Gard­ner was told he will serve half of a twoand-a-half-year sen­tence in cus­tody for two counts of fraud com­mit­ted in the three years af­ter the fusilier’s mur­der in 2013.

The 56-year-old lorry driver, who has pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions for theft and fraud in 1980 and 1995, showed no emo­tion as he was told he had caused trauma to the soldier’s widow, Re­becca Rigby.

Gard­ner, of Old Holt Road, Med­bourne, Le­ices­ter­shire, was found guilty on Thurs­day af­ter an eight-day trial. The court was told he used some of the char­ity funds to “prop up” his over­drawn bank ac­count.

Al­though Gard­ner paid around £4,000 to other char­i­ties af­ter a se­ries of high-pro­file fund-rais­ing events, he failed to pay over a penny of a fur­ther £20,250 do­nated by the pub­lic to help Fusilier Rigby’s young son, Jack Rigby.

In a vic­tim im­pact state­ment read into the court record be­fore the sen­tenc­ing, Lee Rigby’s widow Re­becca said she was dis­gusted at Gard­ner’s ac­tions.

In the state­ment, she said the pro­ceed­ings had placed her in a “daunt­ing” emo­tional place and forced her to re­live her at­ten­dance at the trial of her hus­band’s killers. Mrs Rigby stated that a fur­ther trial was like re­liv­ing the ear­lier trial, adding: “I feel that this mat­ter with Mr Gard­ner will draw the eyes of the world upon us again.

“I feel dis­gusted about Mr Gard­ner not mak­ing good his prom­ises with re­gard to my son and abus­ing my fam­ily name.”

Jail­ing Gard­ner at Le­ices­ter Crown Court, Recorder He­len Mal­colm QC told the HGV driver: “I accept all the ev­i­dence that you worked very hard. In your favour I accept that you did not set out with the in­ten­tion to de­fraud.”

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