The organiser of Charity Truck Pull fundraising events held in Market Harborough and Medbourne has been jailed for two and a half years for pocketing most of the money raised.
A judge said although Gary Gardner didn’t set out to defraud, not a single penny of the £26,000 collected went to the young son of murdered soldier Lee Rigby, who was supposed to be the main benefactor.
The actions by the 56 year old – of Old Holt Road Medbourne – who has previous convictions for theft and fraud – were described as despicable at Leicester Crown Court.
Truck pull challenges were held in Medbourne and Market Harborough between 2013 and 2015 and individuals taking part were expected to pay an entry fee and sponsorship money to the organisers.
Gardner was found guilty of two counts of fraud and cleared of another.
The Leicestershire Police investigation revealed that Gardner used money he raised from the fundraising events to promote his own business interests.
Detective Constable Andy Cree of the force’s economic crime unit investigated the case. He said: “Gardner was a callous individual who exploited a good cause. He had no concerns in contacting a bereaved family for his own financial gain.
“This investigation was lengthy and complex, Gardner tried to cover his tracks and not leave a trace of his activity. However, we uncovered the true extent of his criminality and put him before the courts.
“We are pleased with the conviction and hope that those affected by his actions feel that justice has been served.”