Head of dog’s stole £1 000 000 and lost at the casino online games
The boss of a dog’s home who swindled the charity out of nearly £1m donations before blowing the cash on a lavish lifestyle has been jailed for five years. Simon Price, 53, the ex-chief executive of Birmingham Dogs Home, and his 39-year-old wife Alayna Warner pocketed cash left by animal lovers in their wills.
It turned out, Price splashed the money funding the luxury wedding and on casino online games, while his wife paid off her credit cards and bought a house. During their four-year crime spree, the scheming fraudsters even stole the proceeds of a £400,000 bungalow that had been bequeathed to the charity.
Birmingham Crown Court was told another well-wisher left £60,000 to the charity in their will, which the couple also plundered.
Price, of Solihull, West Midlands, was arrested by officers at Birmingham International Airport as he returned from Barcelona on 10 November last year. He admitted 10 counts of fraud by abuse of position, totalling around £640,000 between February 2012 and October 2016. Warner, of Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, who has now split from her husband, admitted five counts of fraud by abuse of position, totalling around £254,000.
Price was sentenced to five years while his tearful pregnant wife avoided jail after being handed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years.
Sentencing, Judge QC Patrick Thomas, told Price: “This company depends on public donations".
Birmingham Dogs Home, founded in 1892, had £2.7m in donations and legacies in 2015 – including one gift of £1m alone. The charity helped rehouse 3,356 dogs in 2015 and Price was previously hailed “the real hero” for overseeing a move to a new £5.5m site in Solihull. The charity has several patrons, including the mayors of Birmingham and Solihull, Lord Aylesford and the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Dave Thompson.
Patrick Maggs, defending Price, said: "He is deeply ashamed, he headed for the hills but came back to face the music".
“He blames no one else but himself. His explanation is the gambling addiction however he accepts high culpability.”