A MAN with mental health problems will have to pay back £3,750 he stole from a support group he helped to set up.
Brian Cannell was secretary of the Bourne Wellbeing Mental Health Support Group’s and the only signatory on its bank account. He used the cash to improve his standard of living.
On Tuesday last week, magistrates in Spalding gave him a four-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, and told him he will be electronically tagged for six months with an 8pm to 8am curfew. He must also pay back the money.
Cannell, 58, of The Broadway, Morton, pleaded guilty to the theft at a hearing last month.
Passing sentence, presiding magistrate Susan Painter said: “This is a very serious offence and a serious breach of trust committed here. You had control of the money and, rightly or wrongly, were the only signatory.
“This is a large amount of money taken from a charity, which happened over a prolonged period.”
Marie Stace, prosecuting, told how other volunteers at the group had never been shown the transactions on the account.
She said they became “increasingly concerned” when Cannell bought some new household items.
The police were finally called on November 14.
Miss Stace said Cannell told officers during an interview a week later that he intended to repay the money from his disability allowance.
Mike Alexander, mitigating, said Cannell attended the police station voluntarily and made a full admission.
He said: “This is a man who accepted his dishonesty and came clean. He is a man who had been working as a volunteer and he said he never wanted to be involved in money. There was a problem when they set up the account and no one else was willing to do it.
“He said he was not prepared for it not to be done.”
Mr Alexander said Cannell has since had his medication increased and is seeking help.
He also read a statement from Cannell, which said: “I wish to apologise sincerely to the group and to the court and police for taking up their time.”
Magistrates ordered Cannell not to contact any members of the group for 12 months.