A man has been jailed for stealing more than £20,000 from Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.
Richard Shepherd, aged 26, of Aisby Drive in Rossington, was jailed for a year at Sheffield Crown Court after pleading guilty to theft by employee at an earlier hearing.
Police launched an investigation after staff became suspicious of Shepherd, who was employed as a finance assistant at the hospice, based in North Anston, Rotherham.
He had been seen by one member of staff counting large piles of money, which was outside normal procedure.
An investigation found that Shepherd had been paying significant sums of money into his bank account between December 1, 2012 and July 1, 2013. The hospice’s donations log found a deficit of just over £20,000, over the same period.
Shepherd was arrested by police on July 2, 2013
Police Constable Angela Hardwick, who lead the investigation, said: “Shepherd’s actions are deplorable and I am pleased he has now admitted his guilt.
“To steal donated money from a charitable organisation, especially one that provides essential care and support for terminally ill children and their families, is despicable.
“The money he stole allowed Shepherd to fund a lifestyle far above that afforded by his legitimate income.
“We are grateful to Bluebell Wood for their support and patience through what has been a long investigation and I hope that the conclusion of proceedings today shows that justice has been done.”
Shepherd will spend a further 12 months on license once he is released from prison.
Claire Rintoul, chief executive of Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, said: “We are absolutely sickened that a member of our staff, who was in a position of trust, has stolen funds from Bluebell Wood.
“It costs over £3 million per year to run the hospice and we have to raise over 95 per cent of these funds ourselves.
“We rely on the time, effort, dedication and generosity of local people and companies to raise this money. Our supporters range from small children giving up their birthday presents to retired grandmothers skydiving for us; all so that we can provide vital support and services to children who won’t live to adulthood and their families.
“This is a shocking act of calculated betrayal and we hope justice means he will never get the opportunity to do this again.”