Charity founder jailed for fraud

The founder and director of former children’s charity, Little Heroes Cancer Trust, was sentenced to 20 months’ imprisonment after being found guilty of fraud and theft in March 2021

Sentenced by Bradford Crown Court, Colin Nesbitt was found guilty of four counts of fraud by abuse of position and one count of theft.

Nesbitt stole £87,000 from the charity and transferred £181,000 into a bank account in his name between July 2014 and May 2015. He also loaned people money raised by the charity and provided the Charity Commission with false or misleading information.

Information on the Commission’s website shows that the charity’s annual income fluctuated from over £150,000 in 2012 to barely £50,000 a year later.

The charity regulator first identified and reported concerns about the charity’s finances in 2015, which led to Nesbitt’s arrest. An extensive investigation was carried out by West Yorkshire Police and the Charity Commission which led to Nesbitt being charged in May 2018 with multiple offences.

The Little Heroes Cancer Trust was removed from the charity register in 2018.

Judge Gibson, when sentencing Nesbitt said the defendant had ‘betrayed the public and the public confidence in this charity and the charity sector’.

Tim Hopkins, assistant director for investigations and inquiries at the Charity Commission, said: ‘The very serious criminal actions of Mr Nesbitt had devastating consequences, damaging the charity, its good work and name, as well as impacting significantly on the lives of those connected to it – including its former staff, volunteers and of course the children and their families who once benefitted from its services.

‘The money the public generously donated to Little Heroes Cancer Trust was intended to make a crucial difference to children and their families and we understand why those who supported this charity will also feel let down by his actions. Through our work the Commission was able to help expose his criminal actions and I’m glad that some of the funds were recovered, which should go back to the causes they were intended for.’

Little Heroes Cancer Trust was set up to help children suffering with cancer and to provide support to their families. It made activity books for children in hospitals and donated toys to children’s cancer hospitals.

The charity received funding from the public and once featured on Channel 4’s programme Secret Millionaire, where they received an £100,000 donation.

Some of the funds were recovered by police and a separate proceeds of crime hearing, to determine what should happen to these funds, is scheduled for December 2021.

Ruby Flanagan |Reporter, Accountancy Daily

Ruby Flanagan is reporter on Accountancy Daily. Contact her on

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