Former hospice chief who lived the high life using stolen cash must pay back £140,000

Graham Leggatt-Chidgey has had more than 141,134.84 seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Graham Leggatt-Chidgey has had more than 141,134.84 seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

A hospice is more than £140,000 better off after a judge made a compensation order against its former chief executive.

Graham Leggatt-Chidgey was jailed for four years last year for stealing from Butterwick Hospice over an eight-year period.

Butterwick Hospice has premises in Stockton, pictured, Bishop Auckland and Weardale. Pic: Google Maps.

Butterwick Hospice has premises in Stockton, pictured, Bishop Auckland and Weardale. Pic: Google Maps.

The 64-year-old, from Barnard Castle, spent tens of thousands of pounds on the hospice's credit card on hotels, travel, clothes, and jewellery.

At a proceeds of crime (POCA) hearing at Teesside Crown Court today, prosecutor Chris Baker said the total amount stolen, including interest, was £141,133.84.

"There is a further £7,844.16 which is in dispute," he added.

Stephen Constantine, defending, said Leggatt-Chidgey had chosen not to give evidence, but he disputed the smaller amount.

Mr Constantine said assets held by the police 'far exceeded' the total amount claimed.

Judge Sean Morris ordered the £141,134.84 be paid to the hospice within 21 days.

The £7,844.16 will be divided between the police, CPS, and the court.

Whatever is left over will be returned to Leggatt-Chidgey.

"That brings this sorry tale to an end," said the judge.

Butterwick Hospice has premises in Stockton, Bishop Auckland, and Weardale.

"It is a long-established and well-loved facility," said Detective Constable Debbie Southall of Cleveland Police's economic crime unit.

""We've worked tirelessly to formulate a confiscation order so the hospice can be fully compensated.

"Everyone at the hospice should be congratulated for carrying on their wonderful work throughout this difficult time."

She added: "Anyone who gains in material or monetary terms from criminal activity simply cannot be allowed to do so.

"We’ve worked tirelessly to formulate a confiscation order for the full amount of the charge of fraud - so the hospice can be compensated well over £140,000 from Leggatt-Chidgey’s assets.

“The hospice is a long established and well-loved facility which provides essential services and facilities for people with life limiting conditions, so I was deeply saddened to hear that it suffered a large drop in donations following Leggatt- Chidgey’s arrest and the criminal inquiry which followed.

“Leggatt-Chidgey not only let himself down, he let down the patients and their families who are at the heart of the work at the hospice.

"He also let down hospice staff, volunteers, the board of trustees - and the whole community of supporters.

“Insider fraud is driven by the greed of one person (or sometimes a number of people) in an organisation with total control of the finances.

"Leggatt-Chidgey was that one person – a rogue element within a charity that served its community well.

“He has paid the ultimate price. He lived and portrayed a lifestyle far above his means. He is now care of HMP and will pay back everything he stole, through the POCA.

“I’d like to congratulate everyone at the hospice for not allowing this situation to become a distraction and for carrying on their wonderful work throughout this difficult time.

"I wish them all the very best for the future. Finally, I hope today’s outcome now draws a line under this case and that people consider justice done.”

After the hearing, Butterwick Hospice trustees said they were pleased with the court order.

"We welcome today’s judgement and the award of £141,133.54, which will help to alleviate the financial damage caused by Graham Leggatt-Chidgey, and enable Butterwick Hospice Care to continue its vital work," said trustee Paul Bury.

"However, no financial award can repair the reputational impact, nor can it alleviate the emotional distress caused to patients and their families, as well as to the staff and volunteers of Butterwick Hospice Care.

"We have been enormously heartened by the support we have received from the public who clearly recognise that the actions of one man should not be allowed to undermine the sacrifices made by our inspirational founder, Mary Butterwick OBE, and the exceptional dedication of our staff and volunteers.

"Today’s award enables us to draw a line under the betrayal of trust perpetrated by our former chief executive, and enables us to move forward and re-establish the excellent reputation of Butterwick Hospice Care, and, most important of all, continue to serve people when they need us most."