Mom who shaved her head for charity “kept sponsorship money”, court said

A mother who shaved her head for a cancer charity dishonestly kept the sponsorship money for herself, a court has heard.

Friends cheered and applauded Debra Cole, 30, as her long brown hair was cut during a Brave the Shave event at the Maerdy Conservative Club in Rhondda.

A mum of three, Cole has been hailed as a hero for raising £ 560 but failed to hand the money over to the Macmillan Cancer Support charity, a jury said. She is accused of abusing her trusted position as a registered contributor to Brave the Shave, which has raised £ 23million for cancer victims and their families across the country.

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Prosecutor Dominic Hockley said: “A social club agreed upon for Ms Cole could organize their own fundraiser for the cancer charity.

“People paid an entrance fee. There was entertainment – a karaoke disco and raffle and a collection of buckets. Volunteers from the Macmillan Charity joined us in support – it was a very busy event.

Cole’s own mother shaved off her daughter’s hair as guests cheered at the event in August 2018. Mr Hockley said: ‘At one point the club president took the stage to announce that Ms. Cole had raised £ 560. A few weeks later, she told him that she had sent the money to the Macmillan charity – that was not true.

“Charities aren’t there to make it difficult to donate – Debra Cole never intended to pay the money.”

The association’s anti-fraud team was notified and sent Cole letters and an email asking him to immediately pay the money. Crown Court of Merthyr Tydfil heard that she had finally paid the day she received a court summons for the missing donations in 2020.

Mr Hockley told the jury: “You wouldn’t expect that two years after you donated your money still hasn’t gone to the charity.

“The compelling inference is that she never intended to pay Macmillan the money. She decided to hang on to the money, spend it, keep it – who knows?

“Ms. Cole held a position of trust. She was registered with the charity to host the sponsored event Brave the Shave.

“It appears to be a small amount of money, but it is a serious offense as Ms. Cole violated the trust placed in her by Macmillan and the people who made the donations.”

Debra Cole pictured in 2018 after the head shaving event

Club president and shout Ralph Morgans told the hearing Cole was not charged for the event in the “community center” because it was a charity.

He said: “There was loud applause and cheers for Debra and I told her the event went well.

‘I spoke to her weeks later and she said she sent Macmillan £ 400 – some of the people who sponsored her had not come forward with their money.

“I contacted the local Macmillan branch – they had not received any checks.”

Cole, from Maerdy, Rhondda, denies three charges of fraud by misrepresentation. The lawsuit, a private lawsuit led by Macmillan Cancer Support, is continuing.

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