Ex-boss of Hartlepool charity admits string of frauds

Angela Wilcox, former Manor Residents Association centre manager.
Angela Wilcox, former Manor Residents Association centre manager.

THE former boss of a scandal-hit charity has pleaded guilty in court to a string of fraud and false accounting offences.

Angela Wilcox was charged after a long-running police investigation into allegations of wrongdoing while she was in charge of Manor Residents’ Association.

Although she acted illegally or criminally by falsifying bank statements and forging cheques, any money she gained from that wasn’t stolen by her, it was used to keep the charity running.

Jim Withyman, defending Wilcox

The 52-year-old admitted 13 charges relating to false accounting and cheque book fraud when she appeared at Teesside Crown Court.

But she and her daughter Sarah Stead, 27, of Berkeley Avenue, Hartlepool, both denied a further allegation of conspiring to steal money from the charity and will face a trial later in the year.

A date has still to be fixed by the court, but the case is expected to last around a week.

Wilcox, of Minch Road, Hartlepool, admitted conduct which saw her give false or misleading bank statements to Hartlepool Borough Council for an audit of Manor Residents’ Association, falsifying accounts and forging cheques in her name.

She also accepted giving false or misleading information to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Tudor Trust when applying to them for funding.

Wilcox, a former councillor pleaded guilty to a total of 11 counts of fraud, with nine referring to forged cheques, between November 2012 and May 2013.

She also admitted one count of false accounting from between July and August 2013 and one charge of furnishing the council with false information from February 2013.

Jim Withyman, defending Wilcox, said: “Basically, she is saying although she acted illegally or criminally by falsifying bank statements and forging cheques, any money she gained from that wasn’t stolen by her, it was used to keep the charity running.”

A third person charged as part of the investigation, Carol Jeffries, 58, of Owton Manor Lane, Hartlepool, was not in court.

She was said to be suffering from photophobia, an abnormal sensitivity to light, which prevents her leaving the house.

The Kilmarnock Road-based charity provided and promoted activities for the Owton Manor area of Hartlepool.

The Manor Residents’ Association no longer exists and the premises are occupied by a new partnership local organisations totally unconnected to the former charity.

Wilcox and Stead were granted bail and will return to the crown court on May 15 when there will be further legal discussions and a trial date fixed.