A bogus charity collector who pocketed nearly £350,000 from street collections which he said were for disadvantaged children has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Mark Tennant, 44, told shoppers they were donating to a charity that helped severely disadvantaged, terminally ill and disabled children. Tennant, of Jiggins Lane, Bartley Green, who was described in court as “deeply religious”, admitted five charges of obtaining money by deception, two of fraud and one of concealing criminal property.
Judge Philip Parker told the father-of-one that his life had been “a fraud” after Birmingham Crown Court heard that he collected £112,000 in 2003 but only handed over £3,674 to good causes. A year later his own accounts showed that he collected £128,000 but only handed over £8,364.
Tennant collected cash in buckets without a licence from shopping and town centres across the West Midlands.
He also employed “volunteers” and supplied them with fake identification badges, T-shirts, leaflets, and even used a fake charity number for the Child’s Wish organisation.
He was caught in January 2008 when the director of the Child’s Wish charity saw and confronted one of Tennant’s collectors at The Lanes Shopping Centre, in Wylde Green, Sutton Coldfield.
Tennant had also claimed to be working in conjunction with Disability Concern Limited, which does not exist.
Two months later another of his volunteers was caught outside Boots at the Princess Alice Retail Park in New Oscott. The court heard Tennant had been challenged a number of times by the Charity Commission, but he had always managed to “fob them off”.
Proceedings have now been started to try and recover some of the cash.