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Home SUSSEX Animal Rescue Worker Convicted of Fraudulent Use of £190,000 in Public Donations

Animal Rescue Worker Convicted of Fraudulent Use of £190,000 in Public Donations

Chris Tucker, an animal rescue worker, has been convicted of fraudulently misappropriating £190,000 of public donations to finance his personal property. Following a five-day trial at Lewes Crown Court, which concluded on Friday, October 6th, Tucker was found guilty by a jury.

The funds in question were raised for the Bexhill and Hastings Wildlife Sanctuary and Rescue between November 2014 and January 2019. Tucker had purported that these funds would be used to secure his semi-detached house, the sanctuary’s base, either through a trust or a community interest company. He assured donors that the money would be officially safeguarded for charitable causes and would not personally benefit him or anyone else.

However, in 2019, police received allegations that Tucker had diverted the public contributions to buy out his ex-partner and obtain sole ownership of the property. Following investigations, Tucker, 60, of Chantry Avenue, Bexhill, was arrested and subsequently charged with fraud by false representation.

Despite denying the offence, the evidence presented by the prosecution proved Tucker’s dishonest actions in acquiring a valuable property solely in his name.

Detective Constable Jake O’Reilly, the officer at court, stated, “In November 2019, Sussex Police were contacted following an allegation that Tucker had promised to transfer his property to a trust overseeing the sanctuary’s future operations if sufficient funds were raised. Upon reaching the target amount, it was alleged that Tucker acted dishonestly, assuming sole control of the property.”

The subsequent investigation, spanning from 2019 to 2023, revealed Tucker’s false representations to multiple witnesses, social media, and local media. Financial records and Land Registry documents confirmed that the raised funds had been used by Tucker to gain full ownership of the property in Bexhill. This fraudulent activity resulted in Tucker acquiring a mortgage-free house while leaving the sanctuary, which lacked registration as a charity, without the safeguard of an independent trust.

Police Investigator Peters, who led the investigation, remarked, “This was a protracted and intricate fraud inquiry involving a substantial sum of donations and donors who were misled about the fate of their contributions. I am gratified that justice has been served.”

Tucker was sentenced on Thursday, March 28th, at Chichester Crown Court. He received a suspended 21-month sentence for two years, a 10-week overnight curfew, and was mandated to complete 10 days of rehabilitation activity.

Additionally, Tucker was ordered to transfer half of his property at Chantry Avenue, Bexhill, to a local wildlife charity upon its sale, ensuring that the fraudulently obtained funds would eventually benefit the animals for which they were initially raised.

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