Charity bike ride fraudster escapes jail

Police dealing with ‘incident’ at Clanfield Co-op

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FRAUDSTER Paul Fisher admitted he believed he would win the lottery in order to pay back the £31,000 he stole from the Hayling Island Charity Cycle Ride.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard Fisher, a former chairman of Hayling Island Residents’ Association, would spend £100 at a time buying lottery tickets and scratchcards after his deception.

Paul Fisher

Paul Fisher

Fisher told The News it was an ‘absurd delusion’.

It comes as the 66-year-old, of Southleigh Grove, Hayling Island, walked free from court after being given a suspended prison sentence of two years.

He must do 300 hours of community work. Fisher agreed to repay the amount stolen, which comes to £31,003, by selling his house.

As reported, Fisher siphoned off money from the accounts of the Hayling Island Charity Cycle Ride, of which he was a committee member at the time. He had previously been a long-serving chairman of the ride, which has raised more than £1m for charity over the years.

Fisher, an independent financial adviser, used a bank card for 76 transactions from September 2011 until July 2012. The stolen money comprised of fees people had paid to enter the ride and was not charity money.

Judge Sarah Munro QC said: ‘You were a pillar and important cog in the local community of Hayling.

‘That makes it all the more serious and sad that you stand where you are today facing sentence for this serious breach of trust. You have lost your relationship, your good character, and standing in the local community.’

But the judge said she received glowing references about Fisher’s previous good work in the community, which resulted in a more lenient sentence. She gave him full credit for admitting to the crime from the outset.

Fisher told The News: ‘It’s totally out of character for me. I’m an honest person with integrity. I ran out of income. My business failed.

‘I had the absurd delusion I would win the lottery and pay it all back. I must have been not quite in my right mind. I just simply took the money to pay for the mortgage and household expenses.’

Fisher said he was ‘deeply sorry’ for what happened. He added: ‘I have had my punishment already with the upheaval in my life – being ousted from lots of committees, shunned by friends and not involved in tennis groups. Your background can be overturned in one fell swoop.’

FRAUDSTER ‘RELIEF’ OVER VERDICT AS HE AIMS TO MOVE ON

PAUL Fisher said he now wants to get his life back on track.

After walking free from court yesterday, Fisher, who had brought along a large holdall of clothes in case he went to jail, said: ‘It’s a great relief. It’s what we had hoped for.

‘I don’t think it (jail) would have been either a pleasant experience or entirely appropriate.

‘I plan to get on with my life without this hanging over me.’

After selling his home, he plans to remain as a resident on Hayling.

Fisher added: ‘I want to get back into social life.’

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