Children’s cancer charity founder jailed for defrauding more than £200k from organisation

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·3-min read
Colin Nesbitt outside Bradford Crown Court. (SWNS)
Colin Nesbitt outside Bradford Crown Court. (SWNS)

The founder of a children's cancer charity has been jailed for defrauding more than £200,000 from the organisation.

Colin Nesbitt, 60, founded Little Heroes Cancer Trust to provide toys to children being treated for cancer in hospital after his own grandson fell ill with the disease.

But during his tenure as chairman between 2010 and 2015, Nesbitt defrauded the charity out of £235,000 and stole a further £87,000.

He was jailed for 20 months at Bradford Crown Court on Friday after being found guilty of fraud by abuse of position and theft.

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During his trial, Nesbitt was accused of using the money for personal expenses, including buying a suit and paying for a holiday in Gran Canaria.

The court heard how the trust raised money through events but some of the cash was diverted to Nesbitt, who had sole control of the accounts.

He would then pay large amounts of cash into accounts not linked to the charity and gave out dishonest loans with its money.

Nesbitt told jurors: "It was awesome taking toys to sick children."

aHe also admitted being poor at financial management but denied fraud, saying: "I wasn't being careful enough with the money but I wasn't being dishonest."

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But nevertheless, Prosecutor James Lake labelled him "greedy and dishonest," saying: "He did raise money for charity and put smiles on children's faces but all the while he was the charity's biggest liability and feathering his own nest."

Lake told the court: "Colin Nesbitt is a dishonest man. He did not run this charity badly, he ran it dishonestly."

Following the trial, he was convicted of four offences of fraud and two of theft but was cleared of a further similar charge of fraud in the sum of £120,482 and a further count of stealing £7,000.

During the sentencing, Judge Jonathan Gibson said that the 60-year-old had abused his position to steal significant donations that were intended to assist young children with cancer and their families.

He added that Nesbitt had "betrayed the public" and the public confidence in the charity and the charity sector.

In 2021, Nesbitt appeared on Channel 4's The Secret Millionaire, a reality show in which millionaires go incognito and agree to give away money to those in need.

In the episode, poker player Andrew Feldman gifted £100,000 to Littler Heroes.

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Speaking after the sentence, Detective Constable Simon Turton, who led the investigation, said: "We are pleased his custodial sentence reflects the serious nature of this abuse of position which diverted large amounts of cash from some of the most vulnerable in our society.

"I would like to thank the former members of staff at Little Heroes Cancer Trust for their actions in exposing Mr Nesbitt's fraudulent behaviour and for their courage in coming forwards and working with the police during this lengthy investigation.

"It should be noted that many people who were formerly connected with Little Heroes worked hard towards the charity's aims and it is testament to those people that despite Mr Nesbitt's actions numerous children and their families did benefit from the charity."

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