September 21 2014 Latest news:
Kay Atwal, Chief Reporter
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
A youth charity’s activities have been put in jeopardy after its treasurer siphoned off more than £21,000 from its bank account.
John Mohammed, the volunteer treasurer of the North District Marine Society and Sea Cadets – which covers West Ham Sea Cadets at Greengate Youth Centre, Plaistow, and Newham Cornwell VC Sea Cadets in Vicarage Lane, East Ham – was jailed for two years last week.
The 62-year-old, who had been in charge of handling their finances since the 1980s began transferring money into his own bank account in February 2010 on an almost weekly basis, a court heard.
His activities only came to light in October when he handed himself into police.
Mohammed, who lives in Cambridgeshire, used the money to buy a car, help out his son’s business when it was in difficulty and to “keep his head above water”.
He was jailed at Peterborough Crown Court after admitting fraud by abuse of position.
Recorder Gregory Perrins read out a statement from the cadets, which said the fraud had impacted on the poorest families in areas of Newham, West Ham and Clapton, affecting the society’s ability to put on events such as tall ship training.
Samantha Marsh, mitigating, said Mohammed stole because his sister-in-law racked up debts on his wife’s credit card and his wife was not paid for a year. She retired after she became ill and he retired in 2010 after he had a stroke, “so their income went from £23,000 to living on benefits”.
This week a Sea Cadets spokesman said: “We were deeply disappointed by his actions. We are a charity and every penny counts towards supporting young people’s access to Sea Cadet activities to give them the best possible head start in life.”