North East Wales

Miriam Beard jailed for Plas Madoc Communities First fraud

Miriam Beard
Image caption Miriam Beard was sentenced at Caernarfon Crown Court

The head of a charity set up to help people on one of Wales' most deprived estates has been jailed for stealing £51,000.

Miriam Beard, 56, was the former co-ordinator of Plas Madoc Communities First, a project designed to help people on the Wrexham estate.

Beard admitted nine fraud charges after changing her plea during her trial in November.

She was jailed for 32 months by a judge at Caernarfon Crown Court on Friday.

Judge Rhys Rowlands said she was guilty of a "cynical, sustained and very bad breach of trust".

He said she behaved in a "thoroughly dishonest" way, stealing money "which could and ought to have been applied for the benefit of others".

Her son Darrell Kelly, 36, of Greater Manchester, was given a 12-month suspended sentence after admitting his part at a separate hearing.

Hotel bills

He was also ordered to carry out 250 hours unpaid work and subjected to a three-month curfew.

Judge Rowlands told him: "You wouldn't be in that dock were it not for your mother."

During her trial last month, the prosecution said Beard, of Henllan, Denbighshire, had "milked" the registered charity, diverting money supposed to be used to improve the local community, for her own ends and that of her family.

The court heard claims that work on her home and materials were paid by the charity along with two hotel bills.

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Media captionProject workers say they are rebuilding trust with residents

The court heard Mrs Beard found a way to pay her son Darrell 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 Kelly and the evidence showed that he bought another vehicle for £2,000 and sold it to the charity for £8,000.

'Complex'

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 said 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.

After the sentencing hearing, Det Con David Evans explained that the "complex" case came to light following a Welsh government audit investigation which was triggered by information concerning financial irregularities at the charity.

"This was a complex investigation over several months, which involved a team examining documents and records going back to 2003 and interviewing as many as 12 individuals to uncover the wide ranging fraud and deception carried out by Beard over many years," said DC Evans from North Wales Police.

"It was clear from the overwhelming evidence presented to the court that Beard had set out to defraud and had illegally gained thousand of pounds of public money which was supposed to benefit the community of Plas Madoc.

"This sentence demonstrates the seriousness of the offence and that those who steal from the public purse will be brought to justice."

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