A conwoman who stole £88,000 from a dog charity by befriending its vulnerable founder online and lying about her qualifications to become treasurer was jailed for six years yesterday.
Katrina Jones, 53 years old, originally of Sheffield, pleaded guilty to 30 charges of theft in Cardiff Crown Court yesterday with 28 counts relating to her activity in Wales, another charge from Cumbria and her stealing at least £88,000 from K9 Crusaders in Cornwall. She was sentenced to six years in prison.
At the sentencing, Judge Wynne Morgan of the Cardiff Crown Court called Jones: “cold-blooded, evil and malevolent” and said that Jones used the money to help “finance her own gambling and lifestyle”.
A statement from Wendy Carbis, the chair of K9 Crusaders, welcomed the court’s verdict and said that “justice has been done”.
“We are delighted that justice has been done and that Jones has been recognised for what she really is,” she said. “We are looking forward to moving on, focusing on the dogs and the charity without being sucked dry by a cruel thief.”
Jones installed herself as the treasurer of the charity in 2010 after she befriended the founder of K9 Crusaders, Sue Smith on a dog’s website forum. Smith’s partner was terminally ill at the time, which the charity suggests “put enormous strain on her ability to run all aspects” of the organisation. Working under the alias ‘Kate David’, Jones also managed to get her then partner Mark Wren installed as a trustee.
The statement said that, “after becoming an integral part of the life of Sue Smith”, Jones “diverted funds from the sale of our founder’s house; much of it destined to be used for the benefit of K9 Crusaders’ rescued dogs at Hollybush Farm”.
The statement claims that having installed herself as treasurer, Jones syphoned “around £200,000” from the charity and Smith personally to Wren’s bank accounts, “although only about £120,000 was traced” by the police. Wren was originally charged with living off the proceeds of crime but the charge was subsequently dropped by police.
The charity was not aware of the theft until “debt collectors demanded money from the rescue for unpaid bills for maintenance, food and veterinary bills”. Jones’ actions were discovered in the spring/summer of 2014.
“Jones ruthlessly exploited K9 Crusaders and its small team for her own ends, endangering the lives of the dogs she purported to care for,” said the charity’s statement. “The amount she stole was enough to have paid the running costs of the rescue for at least five years.”
Carbis said that the organisation was certainly not the only one that Jones had targeted in the past: “We are not the only charity Jones has targeted and we hope that others will hear our story and come forward”.
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