Former Animal Ambulance treasurer jailed

Jennifer Colenso sentenced to 14 months imprisonment after admitting defrauding charity of almost �100,000.

THE former treasurer of North Devon Animal Ambulance has been jailed for 14 months after stealing almost �100,000 from the charity.

At an earlier hearing Judge Phillip Wassall told Jennifer Colenso, 69, he could not avoid a custodial sentence after she pleaded guilty to eight charges of fraud and one of theft dated between October 2009 and November 2010.

Colenso – who is sole carer for her paraplegic husband – had been granted bail to put her affairs in order, but today (Thursday) at Exeter Crown Court Judge Wassall passed sentence.

Reacting to the news, Diana Lewis of North Devon Animal Ambulance said she and chairman Pauline Bussell were “shocked and saddened” by the news.

“We feel very sad for her family,” she said.

“We did not want anyone to go to prison, we just wanted Jennifer to return all the money for the animals.

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“However, she was given many, many chances by the trustees over a period of months to produce our cheque books and bank statements. It was Pauline’s courage in challenging her so strongly that resulted in her becoming very distressed and aggressive, so Pauline went to the police.

“The sentence was more than we expected and we never, ever wanted our charity involved in anything like this and certainly did not want Jennifer going to prison.”

The West Yelland accountant has since paid back a total of �99,000 to the charity. She was arrested in February this year following an extensive police investigation.

Mrs Lewis added: “A huge thank you must go to the police of North Devon and especially to DC Simon Scotthorne, who was so supportive throughout a very difficult time and worked so hard on our behalf to bring this to a conclusion.

“A big thank you also to the North Devon public – the donations and support we have received since this was first publicised has been amazing and we have been touched by it.”

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