Waveney disability charity was almost forced to close after former treasurer embezzled more than £200,000
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A disability charity has revealed how it was almost forced to close after its former treasurer embezzled more than £200,000 from its reserves.
Neil Payne appeared at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday where he admitted to stealing from Lowestoft and Waveney DIAL between 2010 and January this year.
The 51-year-old, who was the charity's treasurer, took £212,639,52 from the organisation, which provides advice and information to disabled people.
He was remanded in custody ahead of his sentencing on July 6, but was warned by Judge Rupert Overbury he could be facing a lengthy jail term.
Speaking about the impact on the charity, service manager David Savill said the Lowestoft-based organisation almost folded at the start of the year.
And although it has been able to continue operating, he said it had to temporarily reduce some of its outreach services.
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'There was a risk it could have closed,' Mr Savill said. 'But the trustees and employees decided very early on that we wanted to keep going it going.
'We are finding just enough funds to keep going, but in the coming months the charities commission will require us to build up our reserves.'
Mr Savill said various organisations had rallied to provide donations to the charity following an appeal for help.
But he stressed that the organisation still has less than half of the £120,000 it requires to operate each year.
The charity has been running for 31 years and has assisted more than 200,000 clients.
'Last year, we assisted people to get access to more than £1.9m,' Mr Savill said.
'If the charity was not here, a lot of people would not have access to the assistance they are entitled to.'
Mr Savill said staff realised something was wrong at the start of the year when they were not paid. Further investigation at the end of January revealed that the money had gone.
Payne, of Rushton Drive, Carlton Colville, Lowestoft, pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position.
At yesterday's court hearing, judge Overbury remanded Payne in custody and told him: 'A lengthy prison sentence is inevitable. The length will depend on arguments I hear.'
To donate to Lowestoft and Waveney DIAL visit www.lowestoftdial.co.uk