Man sentenced for stealing from a charity set up for a boy who died.

18/02/2015

A man has been sentenced for stealing money from a charity set up in memory of a teenager who had taken his own life.

Mark Faulkner, 26, of Salisbury Street, Warrington, was found guilty of two counts of theft from the "Lewis Edge The Brightest Star" fund following a trial at Warrington Crown Court.

The court heard Faulkner befriended the family of Lewis Edge shortly after the 14 year old died after jumping from Runcorn Bridge on 11 July 2012.

The boy's parents, Lisa Millward and Graeme Edge, had received donations from various sources following the tragedy and they decided, with the local community, to set up a charity.

The charity funds were to be used to create a centre to provide activities for other teenagers who might be experiencing problems.

Faulkner knew of the family and heard about the charity. He approached them and offered to help.  He gave them guidance on how to raise money and how to set up a bank account for the fund.

The court heard that Faulkner won Lisa and Graeme's confidence and they trusted him to pay some cheques into the account.

In late October 2012, Lisa and Graeme were going away and asked Faulkner to deposit some donations at the bank, rather than leave them in the house over the weekend.

Some money had also been raised from a marathon run and had been collected by a family friend and Faulkner was asked to bank this as well. The two amounts came to around £1200.

Lisa Millward became suspicious when bank statements showed there was less money in the charitys account than there should have been.

She asked Faulkner several times to return the bank paying- in book but he made a string of excuses and continued to insist that he had paid in the money.

Lisa and Graeme alerted the police and two detectives called to Faulkner's home and recovered the bank book. Later examination showed there were no cashier stamps to prove the money had been paid in.

Nevertheless, he continued to insist that he had done so and gave dates. Detectives studied hours of CCTV at the bank to see if he was there on the day.

They couldn't find him and Faulkner then said he must have been mistaken and had paid it in on another date. No footage to back up his claims was ever found.

A judge at Warrington Crown Court sentenced Faulkner to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years and ordered him to pay back the £1200 he stole.  He must also pay court costs and do 200 hours of community work.

Helen Graves, Senior Crown Prosecutor with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service said: "Faulkner is a callous thief who targeted a family when they were at their lowest ebb.

"He stole money that had been given by people who had been moved by the tragic suicide of 14 year old Lewis Edge.

"It was to be used to help other teenagers avoid such a fate but Faulkner stole it then proceeded to try and cover his tracks with a series of lies.

"It had become clear that Faulkner hadn't deposited donations in the bank yet he continually denied this, causing hours of wasted police time as detectives studied CCTV from the bank to see if he was telling the truth.

"His lies and denials have no doubt added to the pain and distress of this family who were already grieving for the loss of their son.

"The jury have seen through his claims and have found him guilty of theft, thankfully bringing this sad tale to a conclusion.

"I would like to thank Lisa Millward and Graeme Edge for the courage and dignity they have shown throughout this case and our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time."