Fraudster stole £51,700 from veterans’ group

GUILTY Martin Foster

GUILTY Martin Foster

Andy Carpenter

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THE former treasurer of a naval veterans’ association who stole almost £52,000 from its accounts has been jailed.

Martin Foster fleeced the Portsmouth-based HMS Ganges Association of the cash in an ‘extraordinarily serious breach of trust’.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard the 54-year-old made cash machine withdrawals and debit card transactions totalling £51,700 from the organisation’s accounts between August 2010 and June 2012. Now father-of-two Foster has been jailed for 18 months after admitting two counts of fraud.

The HMS Ganges Association, for people based at the former naval training base at Shotley Gate near Ipswich, Suffolk, has about 3,000 members and relies on subscriptions and donations.

Member Des Kerrigan, 67, who served in the Royal Navy for 25 years, said: ‘When he left we had virtually nothing.

‘We had to instigate a recovery fund and members made donations. We managed to get about £16,000, but that recovery fund came from pensioners.

‘The man could look you in the eye and tell you a lie. What he’s done is obscene.’

Foster’s web of lies began to unravel when a cheque for £30,000 paid by The Ganges Association to a hotel for a reunion was rejected.

He said there had been a mistake, paying £18,500 to the hotel and assuring them the remainder of the money would follow. It never did.

An HMS Ganges Association member checked the organisation’s three Barclays bank accounts and informed chairman John ‘Shep’ Woolley they contained a total of only about £900.

When Mr Woolley called Foster, the fraudster said it was a mistake and claimed he would go to the bank, but he had been involved in a car accident and was in hospital.

Foster emailed a confession to Mr Woolley the next day on June 6, 2012.

Steven Pidcock, defending, said Foster’s wife was extremely ill when the offences took place and ‘clearly feels’ remorse for his actions.

The court heard Foster has repaid about £7,015 of the money he stole.

Recorder Timothy Mousley QC, sentencing Foster, of Haig Road, Uxbridge, Greater London, said: ‘This was an extraordinarily serious breach of trust.’

Det Con Hannah Waterman said: ‘The actions of this man displayed an appalling lack of respect for people who have made sacrifices for this country.’

A Proceeds Of Crime Act hearing is to be held at Portsmouth Crown Court on January 23.

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