a NELSON man has admitted dishonestly abusing his position as a committee member of the Children in Need Regional Committee for the North of England.
Mohammed Sarfraz (49), of Hartley Street, pleaded guilty at Burnley Crown Court to fraud between September, 2008 and July, 2010. He had no previous convictions.
His barrister Mark Stuart said he had worked for the local authority for the last 20 years and was involved with many local organisations, primarily assisting children in North East Lancs.
Sarfraz had now lost his employment, his good character and his standing within the community The offence had brought a great deal of shame upon him. Mr Stuart said: “He has already found himself ostracised by many of those with whom he had previously worked or spent time.”
The defendant received eight months in jail, suspended for 18 months, with 200 hours unpaid work. He must pay £4,261 compensation within six months and was disqualified from being a director for five years.
Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Gibson said Sarfraz dishonestly sought to gain, by failing to declare the relevant interests, a commercial advantage for himself and his company. The judge said: “You were a trusted member on the committee and you betrayed that trust by failing to disclose the conflict of interests.”
Detective Inspector Dave Groombridge of Lancashire Constabulary said: “Sarfraz abused his position of trust as a volunteer member of the board. His conviction follows a protracted investigation involving the full co-operation of the BBC Children in Need charity.
“If the integrity of charity donations and the reliance upon public giving is to be maintained, there can be no room for those who seek to manipulate the generosity of others for their own gain.
“While no children’s charities were disadvantaged as a result of Mr Sarfraz’s crime, his sentence reflects the seriousness of the charge and the public revulsion at the efforts to deceive a great British institution.
“Fortunately, there are some extremely robust and efficient systems in place at Children in Need which ensure issues such as this are highlighted and brought to the attention of the police.”