Fraud accused 'wanted to help children with cancer'

A man accused of stealing from a fund he set up for his son's cancer treatment has told a court that every penny raised was to help others.

Kevin Wright is charged with 10 counts of theft and four counts of fraud.

The charges relate to the Bobby Wright Cancer Fighting Fund, a company called Bobby's Fund and a number of other appeals concerning sick children.

Wright, 49, previously of Exeter, Devon and now of Tamworth, Staffordshire, denies the charges.

He told Nottingham Crown Court he accumulated a pot of money through successful appeals to raise funds after his son, then three, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in April 2005.

'Legendary' progress

He claimed he wanted to supplement his son's NHS treatment with holistic and natural therapies and visited some clinics outside the UK, all of which came at great expense.

When donations began to pour in and Bobby responded well to the treatment he received, Wright told the court he decided to use the fund's money to help others.

He told the court his son's progress had become "almost legendary" and many people contacted him to see if the same could be done for their children.

Helped by friends and family, he began circulating press releases about Bobby to raise awareness about his condition and the campaign snowballed.

A children's charity made a donation of £30,000 to Bobby's Fund and Wright told the court he was not aware of any stipulation that the money could only be used for Bobby's treatment at a specialist cancer centre in New York.

He also told the court about purchasing The Toad In The Hole restaurant in Exeter, which he said was part of the fundraising.

His plan was to educate parents about natural foods and cooking in its kitchen and launch a recipe book detailing meals they had made for Bobby and the family.

Any profits made from the restaurant would go back into the appeal funds, Wright said.

Asked why any promotional material did not mention cancer, he said: "Who would want to go and eat in a cancer-themed restaurant?"

Pub investment

The opening of the restaurant was delayed and it eventually folded.

Wright also invested in a village pub with the idea of running it in the same way envisaged for the Toad In The Hole.

However, the pub was in financial difficulty and also failed.

Wright denies 10 counts of theft, three counts of fraud by false representation and one count of fraud by abuse of position.

The indictment also relates to campaigns concerning Alex Ward, who was diagnosed with a tumour on the brain, Callum Kaye, Jessica Magnus and Armani Mohammad.

Wright's 43-year-old wife, Jacqueline, had also been charged with one count of converting criminal property but prosecutors decided to proceed no further with the case against her and on Tuesday she was cleared of any wrongdoing.

The trial continues.