JSPCA board: ‘Charity owes its survival to Jersey people’

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But the charity is yet to answer questions about the level of corporate governance in place during Stephen Coleman’s ten-year reign as chief executive and why his crimes were not detected sooner.

The JEP has had one interview with the charity’s president cancelled and numerous questions about why Coleman’s activities were not spotted have never been answered.

In a statement, the committee of one of Jersey’s oldest and most well-known charities acknowledged that Coleman’s crimes had ‘severely damaged the public’s trust in the charity’.

It read: ‘We would like to thank the police, prosecutors and the law officers for their tireless help and support throughout this time. We hope he uses his time in prison to reflect upon the damage he has caused. The impact of the whole affair has been explained to the court in our detailed statement.

‘Coleman’s fraud left the Society in a dire financial position, burdened with debt and high interest payments. We never imagined that we would ever see the money that Stephen had misappropriated again. We are truly grateful to the Court for confiscating his assets in order to compensate the Society.’

Coleman, who admitted 19 counts of fraud and forgery, also had a compensation order of £228,000 made against him which will reimburse the JSPCA for some of its losses.

The statement continued: ‘He stole from the generous animal lovers of Jersey, many of whom give donations they can barely afford, in order to finance his extravagant lifestyle and his actions have severely damaged the public’s trust in the charity.

‘The Society, which is registered and fully compliant with the Jersey Charity Commissioner, owes its survival to the people of Jersey who have continued, and indeed increased, their support over this very difficult time.’

Coleman (62) manipulated board minutes and financial books to give himself pay rises and huge bonuses – including one worth £17,000 – over an eight-year period. In total his fraud amounted to £405,000 – almost £300,000 of which was for his own benefit.

He also gave up to nine other innocent JSPCA staff members pay rises and bonuses to, the court heard, mask his own hugely increased salary. At least one other member of the JSPCA was interviewed under caution, prosecutors said, but was soon eliminated from police inquiries.

Between 2006 – when Coleman joined the JSPCA – and 2016, his salary increased from £47,500 to more than £111,000. His crimes were only detected when, in 2016, the defendant asked for the charity’s finance chief to award him a 15% pay rise as he had completed ten years’ service.

As the charity’s finances were in such a dire situation, the request was taken to the board who were ‘surprised by the magnitude’ of the defendant’s salary. In the Royal Court on Thursday Advocate Lucy Marks, defending, raised questions about the checks and balances in place at the JSPCA during her client’s reign.

The JSPCA statement continued: ‘Coleman’s betrayal of Islanders is made worse by the fact that, whilst defrauding the JSPCA, he was not only a retired Major but also a serving Centenier purporting to command trust and respect.

‘In the last couple of years we have had to make challenging financial decisions, but have never compromised on our core charitable objective which is to provide care and shelter for the aged, sick, lost and unwanted animals of Jersey. These animals, and the wildlife of the Island, have been our priority for over 150 years and will remain so always.’

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