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Norwich pub owner found guilty of £1k cancer charity fraud

PUBLISHED: 17:10 24 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:01 25 February 2020

The Robin Hood Pub, on Mousehold Street, Norwich. PIC: Sonya Brown.

The Robin Hood Pub, on Mousehold Street, Norwich. PIC: Sonya Brown.

The owner of a Norwich pub set up a fundraiser in aid of a cancer charity but then kept the £1,000 worth of proceeds for himself, a court has heard.

Jason Staff (left) leaving Norwich Magistrates Court. PIC: Peter Walsh.Jason Staff (left) leaving Norwich Magistrates Court. PIC: Peter Walsh.

Jason Staff, 50, from the Robin Hood Pub, put on a headshave and barbecue in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support in June 2018 which raised a total of £1,003.35.

John Crawford, prosecuting at Norwich Magistrates Court, said Staff had registered the event with Macmillan in May 2018 and received an email from the charity, although there was never a reply.

Jason Staff (left) leaving Norwich Magistrates Court. PIC: Peter Walsh.Jason Staff (left) leaving Norwich Magistrates Court. PIC: Peter Walsh.

The court heard the Mousehold Street pub posted various notices about the headshave, which happened on June 16, 2018, on its Facebook page.

These included a post on June 18, 2018, with a number of men who had their heads shaved and a message giving a "massive thank you" to the hairdresser for "shaving the heads of all these lunatics".

One of the posts from the Robin Hood pub's Facebook page about the Macmillan headshave and barbeque. Jason Staff is claiming that he had raised more than £1,000 for the charity. Picture: ArchantOne of the posts from the Robin Hood pub's Facebook page about the Macmillan headshave and barbeque. Jason Staff is claiming that he had raised more than £1,000 for the charity. Picture: Archant

Mr Crawford said a Facebook post in November 2018 referred to a Wall of Fame, which has been put up above the bar, containing pictures of the participants and a certificate, said to be from Macmillan, stating the total amount raised.

The court heard from a fraud manager at Macmillan who confirmed the charity had not received a cheque from Staff.

One of the posts from the Robin Hood pub's Facebook page about the Macmillan headshave and barbecue showing the back of the heads of some of the people who took part. Jason Staff is claiming that he had raised more than £1,000 for the charity. Picture: ArchantOne of the posts from the Robin Hood pub's Facebook page about the Macmillan headshave and barbecue showing the back of the heads of some of the people who took part. Jason Staff is claiming that he had raised more than £1,000 for the charity. Picture: Archant

Staff, of Mousehold Street, Norwich, appeared in court on Monday, February 24 for trial having denied fraud and possessing an article for use in fraud, namely the fundraising certificate.

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Giving evidence Staff, who represented himself, said: "The dumbest of criminals wouldn't have organised the event and advertised it all."

Staff, who also has a pub in Great Yarmouth, said the event "did take place" and claimed he had sent a cheque off to the charity but that it had not been received.

One of the posts from the Robin Hood pub's Facebook page about the Macmillan headshave and barbeque. Jason Staff is claiming that he had raised more than £1,000 for the charity. Picture: ArchantOne of the posts from the Robin Hood pub's Facebook page about the Macmillan headshave and barbeque. Jason Staff is claiming that he had raised more than £1,000 for the charity. Picture: Archant

He told the court he was "no fraudster". He said: "I don't need the money, I've got my own money. I've got two pubs I don't need to steal £1,000."

Staff said there was "no criminal intent" and insisted there was "no way" he would rob from Macmillan, after the charity had helped him when his father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer.

But district judge Julie Cooper found Staff guilty of the offences and adjourned sentencing until March 26.

Staff said "that's ridiculous" as the verdict was announced and insisted he would be appealing as it was "all a load of rubbish".

Speaking after the case, Bob Browell, counter fraud manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "It is vital that the public, who so generously support our work, are confident that their donations are used as intended to help people living with cancer.

"We will continue to vigorously pursue action against any deliberate abuse of the public's trust and support for our work.

"In our 100 plus years of managing millions of pounds in donations from the public, fraud is extremely rare but we have robust systems and processes in place to prevent and identify wrongdoing and take appropriate action."


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