Ex-Wigan pub licensee admits defrauding cancer charity

A former Wigan pub landlord has admitted fleecing a cancer charity out of hundreds of pounds.

Ex-customers of disgraced Andrew Westwell said they felt “sickened” that he had trousered £1,200 raised by a karaoke evening at the Commercial Inn on Heath Road, Ashton, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

The 52-year-old had initially denied charges of fraud and theft, but when his trial was due to take place at Bolton Magistrates’ Court, he changed his plea to guilty on the fraud charge and so the lesser theft charge was dropped.

He was given a 12-month community punishment comprising 200 hours of unpaid work and 15 days of rehabilitation activities.

Andrew Westwell

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He was ordered to pay victim services £95 and the hearing was told that Westwell has since paid back all the money.

One pub punter, who did not wish to be identified, said: “I don’t think you can sink much lower than that.

“Holding a charity event for a cancer cause and then keeping the money for yourself? I’m sickened by it.”

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The Commerical Inn is now under new management

Another added: “I have had desperately ill relatives who have been helped through their final weeks and hours by Macmillan cancer nurses.

“To fleece the organisation that funds these health workers just beggars belief.”

Westwell, of no fixed address although a source told the Wigan Observer that he is currently living in a static caravan in the Lake District and breeding husky dogs for sale, had faced a charge of “committing fraud while occupying a position, namely as a fund-raising agent of Macmillan, in which he was expected to safeguard, not to act against, the financial interests of Macmillan Cancer Support and that he dishonestly abused that position, intending to make a gain, by failing to pay the value of all such donations to Macmillan Cancer Support and keeping it for himself.”

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The offence took place between December 22, 2019 and July 31 2021.

The hearing was told he hosted a karaoke night at the Commerical which raised £1,200.

A cheque was written out for the amount, but that was returned by the bank unpaid to Macmillan.

This raised the suspicions of a Macmillan member of staff and an investigation was launched. Eventually Macmillan brought a private prosection against him.

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Steve Clayton, Chief Financial Officer at Macmillan Cancer Support said: “It is vital the public are confident their donations are used as intended to help people living with cancer.

“Macmillan has a team who deals with fraud cases and have robust systems and processes in place to prevent, detect and deal with fraud.

“Where necessary, we will initiate private prosecutions to recover unpaid donations as well as legal costs. 98 per cent of our donations come from the general public.”

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