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Home Tunbridge Wells News Article
A hospice boss has been jailed for six months for stealing more than £12,500.
Barry Smith had worked at the Hospices of Hope as trading manager in Otford for 10 years when he took the cash over a seven-month period.
Rejecting a submission to impose a suspended sentence, a judge told the 59-year-old married father: "The fact is this was a hospice - decent members of the public giving to assist others have been the victims of theft.
"A hospice seeking to help people at the end of their lives needs as many contributions as it can possibly get. You have deprived them of valuable funds."
Maidstone Crown Court heard Smith, of South View Road, Tunbridge Wells, ran 19 village shops and was responsible for supervising their accounts for the leading palliative care charity in south eastern Europe.
"The fact is this was a hospice - decent members of the public giving to assist others have been the victims of theft..." - Recorder Jason Dunn-Shaw
Prosecutor Trevor Wright said the finance director became aware in April last year that money was being paid into the bank late.
Smith assured him he would sort the matter out. He was later told that others would pay the money in instead.
In October, the position of trading manager was made redundant as part of restructuring.
An £8,100 redundancy payment was made to Smith and he left on December 6.
Mr Wright said the thefts were then discovered. Smith paid just under £4,000 into the bank after he was made redundant.
When arrested at his home in February, he produced a bag which contained £517 belonging to the hospice.
Smith admitted stealing and said he had money problems. "I did take the takings and knew I was not supposed to," he told police. "I didn't pay them into the bank when I was supposed to."
Michael Edmonds, defending, said: "He finds himself in a crown court in his 60th year for serious matters.
"He took the money and treated it as his own and didn't bank it as he should have done. He used his redundancy money to try to repair the damage.
"He said he just wants to put things right. He is extremely ashamed. He is appalled at his behaviour. His sons are extremely upset and angry."
Mr Edmonds said Smith did not seek to excuse his offending and was committed to paying the outstanding amount.
"The public can be served rightfully by community work," he said. "That involves working with charities. He is mortified."
But Recorder Jason Dunn-Shaw said: "In all the circumstances I cannot accede to your counsel's application."
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