A single mother-of-four who “helped herself” to donations given to Help For Heroes was bailed yesterday to appeal a six-month sentence for stealing from the charity set up to aid wounded soldiers and their families.
Coleraine Magistrates’ Court heard that 33-year-old Debbie Campbell, from Redthorn Court in the Co Londonderry town, set herself up as a collector for the charity, but instead pocketed donations from April 2012 to July the following year. And because the donatns were anonymous, the amount she stole remains “an unknown amount of money”.
Campbell claimed that she was an innocent and that someone had impersonated her after two separate consignments of merchandise, including collection boxes, sent to her by Help For Heroes went missing or were stolen from her car.
However, District Judge Liam McNally convicted her, telling her that he did not “accept for one moment” that collection boxes were stolen from her car. He also told her she had aggravated her crimes by “cheating” those who had readily given donations from their “hard-earned money”, which she then used “to line your own pockets”.
The District Judge said the reluctant evidence of a local shopkeeper, who told of Campbell, whom he knew, leaving two collection boxes in his store, and emptying them each month, was “truthful”, and later “copper-fastened” by the evidence of a policewoman who once challenged her about being a bona-fide charity collector.
Campbell, who was released on her own bail of £500, was convicted of a total of seven charges including stealing over £200 worth of merchandise from the charity, duping a shopkeeper into allowing her to put collection boxes in his store, and five specimen charges of stealing “an unknown quantity of money from collection boxes belonging to Help for Heroes”.