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June 10, 2003


From: Glasgow Daily Record, UK - Jun 10, 2003

Charity thief stole £8500

Calum Mcdonald And Andrew Walker Exclusive

A CHARITY fundraiser ruined a dream holiday for deaf youngsters when she stole cash intended for their trip.

Annie Brown embezzled thousands of pounds from the kids' club, meaning a planned luxury break had to be run on a shoestring.

Her deaf son quit in shame as chairman of the group after Brown's crime came to light.

Ayrshire Youth Deaf Club were left with a gaping hole in their finances after Brown, 55, helped herself to £8500.

Plans to take deaf youngsters to Disneyland Paris fell into disarray.

After frantic fundraising efforts by parents, the children got to Paris, but there was little cash for them to enjoy themselves.

Nanette Fitzsimmons, whose deaf teenage daughter is a member of the club, said: "It was terrible.

"The parents were very angry and some of the kids were in tears when they found out about the money."

Sign interpreter Liz Gibson said: "The kids didn't properly enjoy the holiday as everything was the cheapest option and many trips we planned had to be scrapped.

"Everyone just feels betrayed and let down. What she did, she did against all the kids, including her own son."

At Kilmarnock Sheriff Court last week, Brown - also known as Annie Porter - admitted embezzling the cash from the Irvine- based group.

The mum, from Keir Hardie Crescent, Kilwinning, stole the money after she volunteered to be the club's fundraiser in January 2001.

The position meant she was allowed to sign cheques on behalf of the club.

After writing cheques, she removed the counterfoil stubs from the book to cover her tracks.

She was found out after a car rental firm contacted them to say a cheque had bounced.

Brown's 23-year-old son Derek resigned from the group.

Liz Gibson said: "Derek is a great boy, but she has left him so embarrassed he won't come back."

Brown will be sentenced next month.

© Glasgow Daily Record