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Sweets boss Aaron Sellens fined £5k for misleading charity donors

Aaron Sellens was fined for not delivering money promised to charities
Aaron Sellens was fined for not delivering money promised to charities

by Anna White and Angela Cole

A sweet company director who admitted 14 charges after failing to deliver money promised to charities has been fined more than £5,000.

Aaron Sellens, who ran Buzzboxuk Ltd from the Yew Tree Industrial Estate in Aylesford, admitted 10 charges of engaging in a commercial practice which was a misleading action containing false information.

The 26-year-old, of Rochester Road, Halling, formerly of Chaline Road, Stockbury, also admitted four charges of failing to ensure packages containing confectionery were labelled with the correct weight.

After a contract to raise money for Kent Air Ambulance came to an end, Sellens (pictured left) launched Buzzboxuk Ltd.

After Demelza House rejected his offer to fundraise for them, Sellens asked his customers to suggest charities.

But Demelza became suspicious after he told them of his plans, which included raising money in their name. The charity alerted Trading Standards.

Jars of sweets with the names of several hospices, were placed in several businesses, including the Walnut Tree and The Pippin pubs in Maidstone, and the Bell in Kemsing.

Sevenoaks Magistrates heard that the charities did not receive any funds.
Sellens told the court the company had lost £7,000 worth of stock when his Strood warehouse was broken into twice.

Asked by magistrates why the charities had received no money, he replied: “Because there wasn’t any.”

He added: “I don’t take a salary. If there is enough for me at the end of the month to have some money, then brilliant.”

Sevenoaks Magistrates' Court, London Road, Sevenoaks
Sevenoaks Magistrates' Court, London Road, Sevenoaks

Aaron Sellens was sentenced at Sevenoaks' Magistrates' Court

Sellens was personally fined £400 for the four charges relating to the incorrect amount of sweets.

He was also fined £4,000 covering the 10 charges of engaging in a commercial practice which was misleading, and Buzzboxuk was fined £1,000.

Sellens must pay costs of £4,000 personally and the company must pay £1,840 costs within 14 days.

He vowed to continue his business despite damning revelations. Speaking outside Sevenoaks Magistrates Court, he pledged to raise at least £25,000 for charities this year.

He said he had reduced the number of boxes in Kent, Surrey and Sussex from 3,000 to 1,000 to make a profit.

Speaking about the magistrates’ ruling, he said: “This is completely unfair. Of course, I’m gutted I couldn’t give the charities the money.”

When asked why he didn’t respect Demelza House’s wishes not to be involved, Sellens said it would have looked bad on the charity.

Managers of Demelza have assured their supporters. Chief executive Steve Hoy said: “We are glad that Trading Standards have taken action against Buzzbox and we hope this case has not deterred anyone from supporting Demelza. We would like to reassure our supporters that we follow the Fundraising Standards Board guidelines and we do everything we can to safeguard our logo.

“If people are in any doubt about a company or individual using our logo or the Demelza name they should get in touch with us.

“If anyone sees any Buzzboxuk containers being used in the community please let trading standards know so they can be removed.

“Demelza has a successful partnership with a sweet company called Snak Appeal which we would encourage people to look out for if they would like to support us in this way.”

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