Essex air ambulance con man Nigel Philpot-Jones jailed
A man who defrauded Herts and Essex Air Ambulance of up to £5,000 has been jailed for six months.
Nigel Philpot-Jones, 59, of School Road, Messing, opened a fund-raising shop in Walton-on-the-Naze without the authority of the air ambulance.
The charity received just £5.92 - discovered in a collection box seized by Essex Police during a raid on shop.
The former plumber admitted fraud by false representation at Chelmsford Crown Court.
Judge O'Brien said: "This sort of behaviour undermines the confidence of the public when they are responding to street collections and charities, including charity shops."
Philpot-Jones claimed all the money taken by the shop went into covering its overheads.
He admitted taking money for his own use, but he could not say exactly how much.
His barrister, Matthew Gowen, said: "He didn't set out to defraud people."
The shop was opened on the High Street in Walton-on-the-Naze in October 2008 and was closed earlier this year after four years of investigations, an ambulance trust spokeswoman said.
Jane Gurney, chief executive officer of Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust, said: "We are very sad that even though over the years many people have supported the shop in good faith, the charity has not benefitted from their generosity."
Its official shops in Burnham-on-Crouch, Leigh-on-Sea, Brightlingsea and West Mersea have so far raised £400,000.
The charity relies on public support to pay about £380,000 a month to keep it flying.
It worked with Essex Police, the county's trading standards department and the Charity Commission to produce evidence of Philpot-Jones' fraud.