Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Charismatic Charity Boss Jailed For Defrauding £33K From Women's Centre

Canary Yellow: Court Date
The boss of a National Lottery-funded women’s charity, who used the power of her personality to defraud the organisation of £33,771, was jailed for two years yesterday. 

Ruth Hiscock, 37, was the co-ordinator of Harrow Women’s Centre, which in February 2014 secured five years of lottery money after the local council removed their £68,000 grant.

Harrow Crown Court heard she fooled the board of trustees, staff and volunteers and stayed above suspicion as she turned colleagues against each other.

Hiscock, of The Gables, North Orbital Road, Watford pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by abuse of position between December 31, 2012 and April 24, last year.

Prosecutor Miss Maureen Flaherty told the court: “The defendant’s running of the charity was deemed to be successful and utilising her strength of character and the manipulation of those she worked with she managed to keep her position of authority.

“An aggravating factor is that some of her fellow-workers were essentially short-changed. They were not paid and lost out.

“Especially concerning is that fact that Mrs Hiscock, in her role, managed to set all parties against each other while paying herself an extra salary.”

The centre, based in Andrew Close, Bessborough Road, Harrow describes itself as providing, for over twenty years, a safe place for women in need, hardship and distress.

Caged Bird: Police Custody
It provides support and counselling, including mental health assistance, training and legal advice and has thirty-two qualified counsellors, plus volunteers.

Hiscock was originally employed as a part-time book keeper, but was so impressive she was promoted to overall managerial control of the charity.

However, she plunged the centre into £26,000 in rent arrears, jeopardising the existence of the charity, which annually assists 850 local women.

When staff complained to Hiscock about lack of pay, she lied to their faces, claiming the board of trustees were unhappy with the quality of their work.

“She deflected any wrongdoing away from herself.”

Her laptop revealed she had created false invoices to assist the fraud. “Quite clearly this defendant had been paying herself far more than she was entitled to,” added Miss Flaherty. 

“She tried to cover her trail and had such control and came across as such a jovial, decent person.

“It would have been clear to her what could happen as a result of the misappropriation of funds and the charity was in jeopardy of folding.

“Fortunately a further National Lottery grant was a saving grace, but they have depleted funds that were saved for a rainy day.

“The trustees have been left feeling foolish that they could not protect the charity.”

The organisation realised there was a financial crisis last year. 

“There were initial denials by Mrs Hiscock, but in May, last year she eventually said: ‘I hold my hands up. I took the money.’

“She said she had a breakdown and turned to alcohol and could not account for how the money was spent, there was no one main item purchased.”

Hiscock is also the former director of Harrow Community Action Ltd.

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