Charity cheat convicted of fraud
Man claimed to be collecting clothes for children's cancer charity
A fraudster who collected bags of clothes for a children's cancer charity that he was never affiliated with, has been convicted of fraud by false representation.
Dalius Valys, aged 28, and of Strafford Road, Southampton, was convicted at Reading Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.
The investigation centred on collections taken between Newbury and Thatcham and first arose when West Berkshire's Trading Standards team were alerted to a charity bag collection taking place in Greenham on April 9 this year.
The bags distributed to residents stated the collection was by textile recycling company Audosta Limited with a proportion of the proceeds being donated to a children's cancer charity.
Checks with the council's Licensing team revealed, however, that there was no licence for the collection.
This prompted Trading Standards and Thames Valley Police officers to confront Mr Valys who was in the process of collecting the bags, and he was subsequently asked to cease.
However, later that day, police stopped Mr Valys on the A339 and discovered that he now had more than 250 bags of donations in his van.
He was arrested along with his assistant and taken to Newbury police station where further investigation confirmed that he was not in fact working on behalf of Audosta Ltd.
When interviewed, Mr Valys gave a prepared statement that he had left the area as directed and that the bags had been collected from some 20km away.
However, forensic evidence recovered from satellite navigation in the vehicle confirmed he had remained in the Newbury and Thatcham area in the period prior to his arrest.
Following Tuesday's trial Valys was convicted of one count of fraud by false representation. In his defence he had claimed this was a mistake.
In addition to the finding of guilt Mr Valys also entered a guilty plea at a previous hearing to one count of under the House to House Collections Act 1939.
Magistrates indicated that the offence had a number of seriously aggravating factors in that it was committed purely for personal gain and that both the householders and the charity were victims.
Executive member for public protection Marcus Franks said of the case: "This was a cynical fraud.
"Giving to charity is important to many people in the community and they are entitled to have trust that when they give to collections their property will end up where it is intended.
"This was another excellent example of joint working between Trading Standards and the Police to protect the local community and we are grateful to Thames Valley Police for their continued support."
The matter has been adjourned for reports until January 7 when sentencing will take place.