Man steals from charity set up to help suicidal teens

Mark Faulkner and (left) and Lewis Edge 
By: Tanya Malhotra 

A man was arrested, charged and convicted of theft after stealing funds from a charity that was set up to help suicidal teens, prosecutors in the United Kingdom said.

Mark Faulkner, 26, of Salisbury Street, Warrington, was found guilty of two counts of theft from the Lewis Edge The Brightest Star fund, following a trial at the Warrington Crown Court.

The court heard that Faulkner befriended the family of Lewis Edge shortly after the 14 year old died. Edge jumped from the Runcorn Bridge.

The boy's parents, Lisa Millward and Graeme Edge, had received donations from various sources following the tragedy, and they decided with the local community to set up a charity.

The charity funds were to be used to create a center to provide activities for other teenagers who might be experiencing problems.

Faulkner knew of the family and heard about the charity. He approached them and offered to help. He gave them guidance on how to raise money and how to set up a bank account for the fund.

The court heard that Faulkner won Lisa and Graeme's confidence, and they trusted him to pay some checks into the account.

During one occasion, Lisa and Graeme asked Faulkner to deposit some donations at the bank rather than leave them in the house over the weekend.

Some money had also been raised from a marathon run and had been collected by a family friend, and Faulkner was asked to deposit the cash as well.

The two amounts came to around 1,200 pounds ($1,845).

Lisa Millward became suspicious when bank statements showed there was less money in the charity’s account than there should have been.

She asked Faulkner several times about it, but he made a string of excuses and continued to insist that he had deposited the money.

Lisa and Graeme alerted the police. Detectives studied hours of surveillance video at the bank to see if he deposited the money.

They couldn't find him.

A judge at the Warrington Crown Court, sentenced Faulkner to six months imprisonment suspended for two years, and ordered him to pay back the 1,200 pounds ($1,845).

He must also pay court costs and do 200 hours of community work.