Tyne & Wear

Ex-charity boss John Briers guilty of £700,000 fraud

John Briers entering court
Image caption A jury took just over two hours to convict John Briers

A former charity chief has been found guilty of defrauding his organisation out of more than £700,000.

John Briers, who was the head of Age Concern South Tyneside, used fake invoices and banked unauthorised bonus and pension payments between 2007 and 2015.

Briers, 57, of Woodstock Road, Gateshead, had denied three counts of fraud by abuse of position.

He will be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on 24 May.

Briers stole a total of £708,499, the jury heard.

He paid 60 fraudulent cheques amounting to £433,236 into his bank account as well as awarding himself £105,560 via 12 unauthorised bonuses and £169,703 through 19 unauthorised top-ups to his pension.

'Deeply saddened'

The jury heard concerns were raised by a finance officer in August 2015 who had become worried about an invoice claiming to be from an architecture firm.

They were also told number of submitted invoices were not sequentially numbered and had no supporting documentation.

Briers claimed he had banked the cheques as reimbursement for paying suppliers from his own funds and said the original invoices had all been lost and replaced by substitutes.

Following the verdict, the charity said: "We are deeply saddened by this serious breach of trust and highly conscious of how much more might have been done by the local charity to help older people in the South Tyneside area if it had not happened."

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