A ‘RELIABLE’ finance boss spent six years siphoning off thousands of pounds from the cancer charity she worked for into her own accounts, a court has heard.
The Wessex Cancer Trust’s former financial coordinator Paula Tribbeck transferred vital money as the charity launched public fundraising in a pitched battle to survive.
The charity, which helps people with cancer and their families in Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, faced possible closure and raced to raise £600,000 to save the organization in early December 2019.
Bosses told the Daily Echo that Tribbeck’s crime, which spans from January 2013 to December 2019, left them “shocked and saddened”.
Tribbeck, 48, admitted fraud by abuse of position at Southampton Magistrates’ Court.
The court heard how she stole money by abusing her position with the struggling charity.
She dishonestly transferred money from the bank accounts of Wessex Cancer Trust and its retail subsidiary WCT Wessex Limited to herself for six years.
She was eventually arrested in 2019, with the charity taking immediate action and reporting the incident to the police.
In a joint statement, Diane Cutler, chair of the trustees, and Rachel Billsberry-Grass, chief executive of the Wessex Cancer Trust, told the Daily Echo: ‘We are shocked and saddened that a trusted member of staff is stealing from our charity .
“This is a historic incident and when it was discovered in 2019, we took immediate action to notify the police and the Charity Commission, and to review all internal procedures.
“Since then, we have been helping the police gather evidence to bring this criminal case to court.
“The individual has now pleaded guilty in the magistrates court, and we look forward to the sentencing hearing in October.
“As a charity, we are grateful for every penny we receive from our supporters and for the hard work of our volunteers.
“Without their generosity, we would not be able to provide people living with cancer with the emotional and wellness support they need.”
Tribbeck, of Broadlands Road, Southampton, is now due to be sentenced in City Crown Court on October 18.
Wessex Cancer Trust provides free support for people affected by the disease at support centers in Chandler’s Ford, Hythe, Andover, Bournemouth and Newport.
It offers walk-in service, professional counseling, complementary therapies, activities, support groups and classes.
Some £290,000 has been raised to prevent her from sinking in 2020.