Conman stole over £300,000 cash intended for the wounded soldiers' charity
A fraudster who conned the public out of £300,000 cash intended for wounded soldiers’ charity Help for Heroes has been jailed for four and half years.
Exeter Crown Court heard how Christopher Copeland assembled teams of workers to operate donation stations across the country over an 18-month period, encouraging shoppers to put money into Help for Heroes-branded buckets.
His con was discovered after a genuine Help for Heroes’ fundraiser grew suspicious and reported him to the police.
Chris Copeland exploited the goodwill of so many people towards our wounded men and women - Jo Brookes
Copeland, 52, admitted one charge of fraud by false representation and one charge of concealing criminal property.
Judge Philip Wassall said: “Offences like these dent public confidence in charity and show how easy it is for somebody so motivated to take money from charities.
"This offending was very damaging to Help for Heroes and the public are likely to question how safe their donations are and whether they will reach the charity.
"Any sentence must deter and restore public confidence by showing when people offend in this way there will be lengthy sentences."
Help for Heroes' income protection officer, Jo Brookes, said: "We're appalled that Chris Copeland exploited the goodwill of so many people towards our wounded men and women in such a calculated, devious way.
"Help for Heroes is grateful to our local fundraiser who first spotted what Copeland was doing, and to the police and the courts who have made sure he didn't get away with it."
Copeland now faces proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act.