Disgraced accountant must sell up to pay back a charity he stole from
A DISGRACED Fenland accountant was yesterday ordered to sell his home, business and car in order to compensate a Norfolk hospital charity which he ripped off to the tune of �400,000.Earlier this year, Martin Whatling of Gedney Dyke, admitted betraying hi
A DISGRACED Fenland accountant was yesterday ordered to sell his home, business and car in order to compensate a Norfolk hospital charity which he ripped off to the tune of �400,000.
Earlier this year, Martin Whatling of Gedney Dyke, admitted betraying his position as treasurer of the League of Friends of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn, by systematically siphoning off funds over a five-year period.
The 55-year-old had already taken out personal loans to repay �215,000 in an attempt to cover his tracks when the allegations first came to light, but this still left the group �190,000 out of pocket. The funds would have been used to buy much-needed hospital equipment.
But Norwich Crown Court has now ordered the father-of-four to repay as much as possible by selling off his key assets with an estimated value of �125,000. He will have until the end of next year to pay-up and the bulk of the cash will go directly to the League of Friends.
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Last night, James Morgan, the League of Friends' solicitor, welcomed the news and said the charity would now consider further legal action to reclaim the remaining amount.
He said: "The charity is delighted with the figures that have come out of this hearing. They are not, however, real figures until the money is banked and the charity will wait to see whether, in these troubled times, the values will be realised.
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"The charity will still be out of pocket even after this ruling, assuming all the money comes in.
"The charity will have to think about looking to the bank that allowed some of the forged cheques to pass as that is the only route of legal recourse available now that these proceedings are finished."
Whatling also stole �20,000 from a 73-year-old woman from Peterborough, who will be repaid as part of the package.
Commenting on the ruling, a police spokesman said: "Mr Whatling was in a position of trust as treasurer of a charity.
"He abused that position of trust and it is only right he will not profit from his crimes. Furthermore, his victims will receive compensation.
"We advise all charities and good causes to ensure they have appropriate systems in place to prevent similar situations happening to them."
Defence barrister Alan Compton told the court that the bulk of the compensation would come from the sale of the accountancy business for �90,000.
This amount may change as the buyer claims the firm has been devalued since Whatling's conviction.
The rest of the money will come from his equity in the home he shared with his wife in Main Road, Gedney Dyke, near Spalding in Lincolnshire, and from the sale of his car.
At the original hearing, Whatling pleaded guilty to theft from the charity between January 2002 and March 2007 and another charge of furnishing false information to the charity.
He also asked for the �20,000 theft from an elderly woman to be taken into consideration.
The court heard he had been driven to crime to keep his accountancy business afloat. He was jailed for three years and yesterday the court heard the earliest date he will be considered for release is next September.
Whatling worked for 22 years for the charity, which has raised more than �2 million to buy vital hospital equipment to help patients since it was formed in 1953.