Jack Johnson

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Fraudster Coleman Jailed For Seven Years

The former boss of the JSPCA has been jailed for seven years after defrauding the charity out of £405,000.

Stephen John Coleman (62) has been sentenced in Jersey's Royal Court this morning after pleading guilty to 19 charges in November.

He admitted 15 counts of fraud, two of forgery and two of uttering forged documents.

Mr Coleman was charged last August following a two-year-long Police investigation.

The offences occurred over an eight-year period and involved Coleman giving himself unauthorised pay rises and bonuses. 

He took £299,000 of the charity's income for his own benefit and another £106,500 for some of his innocent co-workers. The defence alleged Coleman could have given others pay rises too as a ploy to hide the magnitude of his own.

The Royal Court heard that Coleman forged letters from JSPCA committee members when applying for mortgages and loans totalling £445,000, as well as gradually increasing his own salary from £47,500 in November 2007 to £111,300 by December 2016.

He spent the money on a new house, sports cars, luxury holidays to the USA, five-star hotels and business class flights as well as 19 firearms.

Coleman after a court appearance last August.

Jersey Police say Coleman showed 'remarkable arrogance and a lack of empathy' throughout the investigation, thinking only of himself:

"Throughout the investigation, his arrogance and lack of empathy have been remarkable. The widely reported impact upon the charity, and its treasured status with Islanders, appears to have been of little consequence to him. He has only ever thought of himself.

"During the complex 18-month investigation by the Joint Financial Crime Unit, Police have received the full cooperation of the JSPCA and we can say with certainty that Coleman acted alone, without any wider knowledge of his actions or intentions.

"We welcome this sentence which demonstrates the severity of his crimes and hope that this marks the end of an exceptionally difficult period for the JSPCA."

In November, Detective Inspector Lawrence Courtness read a statement on behalf of Jersey Police after Coleman pleaded guilty:

Detective Inspector Lawrence Courtness outside the Royal Court.

The JSPCA is expected to respond to Coleman's sentencing in a statement tomorrow. 

Channel 103 spoke to the charity's current Chief Executive, Debra D'Orleans, following Coleman's plea. She said his actions almost forced the charity to close:

"We're absolutely delighted that he's decided to plead guilty. His actions had a devastating impact on the Animals Shelter, and now we're hoping to put all this behind us and carry on our work for the animals of Jersey.

"If you see the staff's faces, everyone's so relieved for the fact that this is now going to be in the past. There was always this worry about [the investigation] dragging on - there's a black cloud above you, and it's now a case of knowing he's now pleaded guilty, therefore we can carry on and move forward - and that's the main thing everyone is delighted about.

The JSPCA's new boss, Debra D'Orleans.

"We've had some fantastic support and we're keen to keep that going. We're so thankful for the people who stuck by us in all this, and our heartfelt thanks go to them for staying with us and helping us to get through this terrible period."

During the sentencing, Defence Advocate, David Hopwood, called his actions 'reprehensible' which nearly destroyed the JSPCA.

He said Coleman's actions destroyed public confidence called the manner of his deception ‘brazen and elaborate’ and that he implicated innocent charity workers.

The defence said that Coleman was 'deeply ashamed of his behaviour' and has apologised for the impact it's had on the charity's work.

In sentencing, Commissioner Sir Michael Birt said Coleman abused people's trust and severely damaged the JSPCA's reputation.

A confiscation order of £228k, has also been made to compensate the charity. His and his wife's home will be sold to help pay for this.

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