Former Norfolk police employee in court on festival tickets fraud charges
PUBLISHED: 11:28 15 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:42 16 May 2018
A former Norfolk Constabulary employee and volunteer community radio station presenter has gone on trial for fraud over obtaining press passes for festivals.
Abraham Eshetu, 43, of Orchard Street, Norwich, applied for media accreditation for himself and others to the 2014 and 2015 World of Music and Dance (WOMAD) events in Wiltshire when he allegedly was no longer a regular presenter for Norwich-based Future Radio.
The prosecution claim that Eshetu, deputy head of diversity at Norfolk Constabulary at the time, used his police email address to give his applications “credibility”.
Eshetu pleaded not guilty at Chelmsford Crown Court to two charges of fraud between May 1 and July 31 2014 and between May 1 and July 31 2015 by making false representations to Borkowski Arts and Ents Ltd that he was a regular presenter on Future Radio, that the persons attending were authorised representatives of the radio station and that the listening audience was 192,000 people.
Prosecutor Simon Gladwell, opening the case to the jury on Monday, said Borkowski Arts and Ents Ltd organised and managed press passes for the July festivals held at Charlton Park, Malmesbury.
He alleged that when Eshetu filled in the two forms claiming he was at that time a regular volunteer presenter and manager for World Culture Show on Future Radio that was not true.
Nor were the three other people he named as accompanying him in 2014 or the four extras listed in 2015 authorised by Future Radio, said Mr Gladwell.
In addition the defendant wrongly claimed the listening audience of Future Radio was 192,000.
Mr Gladwell continued: “Eshetu sent those forms using not a personal email address, not one belonging to Future Radio but his police email address because he was a Norfolk Constabulary employee working as deputy head of diversity, reporting to the head of the community safety department.
“We say he used his police email address to give his applications credibility.”
The court heard that in the application Eshetu stated his two-hour World Cultures show went out weekly on Sundays 6pm-8pm and it had dedicated local listeners and online from around the world.
When interviewed by police in February 2016 Eshetu said the other attendees were his friends who helped him. They were not volunteers at the radio but he “insisted” because they were from the local community they were linked to Future Radio.
He did not accept that he had behaved dishonestly or sought to legitimise his applications by sending them from his police email account.
Former Future Radio manager, Daniele Fisichella, who worked at the charitable organization between June 2014 and July 2016, said in evidence that Eshetu presented his show monthly as that was all he could commit to.
When the station’s software was upgraded in autumn 2014 Eshetu was not able to attend training and he stopped being a volunteer from January 2015. He did not renew his volunteer registration subscription.
Mr Fisichella said volunteers had to seek permission to attend festivals and sporting events and it was usually granted.
He said he never authorised anyone to attend WOMAD and Eshetu did not ask for authorisation in 2014 or 2015. Requesting permission was part of the volunteers’ code of conduct and agreement, he added.
The witness said he would question why several tickets would be needed for non-volunteers and would refuse permission.
He stated: “I believe sending more people than necessary to any event could jeopardise the relationship with the event organisers and the radio station.”
The court heard that Eshetu had been at the radio station for ten years before Mr Fisichella arrived. His show had been weekly for many years and went to twice monthly before becoming monthly.
Mr Fisichella denied in cross-examination that Eshetu had worked there monthly until June 2015 and done two extra shows in February and March that year.
The trial continues.