Disability charity boss jailed after stealing from pension fund | Guest author Steven Morris

Patrick McLarry was guilty of ‘appalling dishonesty and a breach of trust’, the judge said. Photograph: Ben Mitchell/PA
Patrick McLarry was guilty of ‘appalling dishonesty and a breach of trust’, the judge said. Photograph: Ben Mitchell/PA
The former head of a charity has been jailed for five years after he admitted defrauding a pension scheme for workers with disabilities and using the money
to buy houses in England and France.

Patrick McLarry took more than £250,000 from the pension scheme of Yateley Industries for the Disabled and used it to buy homes for himself and his wife
and pay off a debt for a pub lease.

The charity was so badly affected by the sophisticated fraud that it came within days of closing and service users and staff have been left traumatised.

Sentencing him at Winchester crown court, the judge, Andrew Barnett, described the fraud as “an appalling dishonesty and breach of trust”.

He said: “You quite deliberately and in a very calculating way milked the fund of a considerable amount of money which was spent for your own needs and
your wife’s.”

Linda Matthews, the chief executive of the charity, said in a statement read to court that the pension scheme faced “significant difficulties” because
of the stolen funds and had led to “immense stress and anxiety” for staff and users.

Alex Stein, prosecuting, said McLarry carried out the fraud by setting up a new company to manage the pension fund, of which he was one of only two directors
and in the habit of authorising decisions.

He also set up a third company, which used the cover of trading in antiques to transfer the stolen money to France in order to buy two properties abroad
before creating a fictional loss to explain the missing funds. Stein said outside court: “This was a complex, sophisticated fraud undertaken over a number of years against vulnerable victims. Mr McLarry held himself
out as a pillar of the community, a legitimate businessman and a man with an MBE.

“It took a persistent and tenacious investigation to uncover one of the most substantial pension frauds prosecuted to date.”

Nicola Parish, the executive director of The
Pensions
Regulator, which brought the prosecution, said: “McLarry tried every trick in the book to hide his actions and squander the pension pots of those he was
responsible for but we were able to uncover the truth and bring him to justice.

“We will now work to seize assets from McLarry so that as much of the money as possible is returned to its rightful owners, who will rightly rely on it
to deliver their pensions in retirement.”

McLarry, from Bere Alston village near Plymouth in Devon, was also previously convicted of failing to disclose his bank statements to the regulator’s investigators.

McLarry’s wife, Sandra, 59, was initially charged with four counts of money laundering but at an earlier hearing the prosecution said it would not proceed
with the charges and offered no evidence. She was found not guilty.

Hampshire-based Yateley Industries has a onsite factory that trains and employs about 60 people with disabilities. It focuses on specialised packing, including
machine shrink-wrapping and boxing.

The work and pensions secretary, Therese Coffey, said: “Defrauding disabled people of their hard-earned pension savings is a despicable crime. I welcome
today’s sentence.

“This government will ensure that individuals who pocket people’s retirement funds feel the full force of the law. To protect savers further we are introducing
new laws, with a maximum jail term of seven years, for those who wilfully or recklessly endanger pensions.”

As 2020 begins… we should take great lessons and ensure we don’t enhance disability corruption.
For those who have been corrupt repent and repent time is coming when you will cry alone.
The friends and colleagues you have been eating with will no longer be with you.
Imagine the lives of the marginalized disabled persons you have ruined and denied them the opportunity to thrive or enjoy life just like you.

Crime,