South Shields charity boss denies £724,000 fraud charges

John Briers
John Briers

A chief executive of a charity for the elderly in South Tyneside has appeared in court charged with defrauding more than £700,000 from the organisation.

John Briers, 56, was suspended from his position as chief executive officer of Age UK South Tyneside - in Beach Road, South Shields - in August 2015.

Age UK South Tyneside's Dora Dixon House, Beach Road, South Shields.

Age UK South Tyneside's Dora Dixon House, Beach Road, South Shields.

The suspension followed concerns being raised about the charity’s finances

Briers appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates Court court with defrauding more than £724,000.

Briers faces eight charges of fraud by abuse of trust between January, 2007, and August, 2015.

No pleas were taken from Briers during a short preliminary hearing at the court.

Mark Harrison, defending, said: “I can tell the bench pleas will be withheld for the purposes of today’s hearing.

“It is a complex case which will require a great deal of work.”

He added: “Mr Briers accepts no dishonesty or wrongdoing, and this matter will be contested in due course.”

Glenda Beck, prosecuting, said the case is too serous to be dealt with by magistrates.

Ms Beck added: “The is an allegation of a long-term and significant fraud by this defendant, who is head of a charity.

“The total sum involved is £724,076.24.

“Upon conviction, the sentencing guidelines suggest a starting point of three years, which is in excess of the powers of this court.”

The bench ordered the case to be sent to Newcastle Crown Court for a preliminary hearing on June 20.

Briers, of Woodstock Road, Gateshead, was released on unconditional bail.

Age UK South Tyneside is a charity providing services and support for older people in the South Tyneside community.

It’s role is to promote the wellbeing of older people to make later life a fulfilling and enjoyable experience through a range of services.