Plas Madoc housing scheme boss 'milked £54,000'

James and Miriam Beard James and Miriam Beard arriving at Mold Crown Court for a previous hearing

The head of a scheme to regenerate a deprived housing estate "milked" £54,000 of its funds for herself and her family, a jury has been told.

Miriam Beard, 55, who ran Plas Madoc Communities First Project at Acrefair, Wrexham, also hid her previous convictions, Mold Crown Court heard.

Mrs Beard, of Henllan, Denbighshire, and her husband James, 46, deny a number of fraud and theft charges.

Prosecutor Karl Scholz said the case centred on dishonesty, deceit and lies.

Mr Scholz said the case was primarily orchestrated by Mrs Beard.

He said Plas Madoc Communities First Project was a registered charity set up to improve the local community.

CSE examinations

Mrs Beard had been appointed its co-ordinator in 2003 after working as a welfare rights money adviser for Wrexham council's social services department.

But Mr Scholz alleged that she concealed her past by claiming to be 10 years younger.

She claimed that she left university and went straight to work after obtaining A levels and GCSEs.

In truth, Mr Scholz told the court, she had been due to sit six CSE examinations, failed three and failed to turn up for three. She never went to university.

He said Mrs Beard did not disclose her criminal record and had been convicted of offences of dishonesty and other matters in the 1970s.

Mr Scholz said that she had served a prison sentence in 1979 for conspiracy to defraud.

Holiday caravan

The charity was intended to provide activities to boost the quality of life for local residents

He said Mrs Beard was answerable to no-one at the scheme apart from a board of trustees who apparently had very little hands-on knowledge of what was taking place.

He added that she was, in effect, using the assets of the charity for her own ends and "milked" £54,000 from it.

The court heard Mrs Beard found a way to pay her son Daryl Kelly £18,300 on the pretext that he owned a holiday caravan on the coast and was renting it to the project for the use of residents.

When checks were made, she changed her story and said she was hiring him - at £18,300 for two years - to maintain and keep an eye on it. The caravan was at all times owned by the charity.

The charity also paid £3,000 for a vehicle for Mr Kelly and the evidence showed that he bought another vehicle for £2,000 and sold it to the charity for £8,000.

Hire of a digger

She also arranged for him to use her fuel card and he ran up a £4,000 bill over a 15-month period, it was alleged.

It was alleged that she arranged for two cheques, totalling more than £25,000, to be paid into her father's account for running or providing services for children.

The court was told that no such services were provided.

The money was then withdrawn and paid into her account and there was no suggestion that her father knew what was going on.

The court heard that Mrs Beard had produced a document outlining youth activities that were proposed which, among other things, would help quell the stigma attached with Plas Madoc, she said.

Drama groups were planned to build confidence and self-esteem, together with football, rugby, healthy eating sessions and drama producers, directors and make-up artists would give talks.

Other issues would be tackled including bullying, drugs, alcohol, environmental issues and the programme would end up with a presentation to showcase the youngsters' achievements.

But the platitudes contained in the document she prepared was all a tissue of lies, said Mr Scholz.

He said she had arranged for building materials and the hire of a digger which she needed for work at her home at Henllan to be invoiced to the charity together with two hotel bills at the Wild Pheasant in Llangollen.

Mrs Beard denies 12 charges of fraud in a position of trust and one of joint theft with her husband.

Her husband denies eight charges - six charges of fraud and two of theft.

The trial, before Judge Rhys Rowlands, is expected to last two weeks.

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