Anglesey foodbank still running amid former volunteer's theft and fraud scandal

Reporter:

Dale Spridgeon

An Anglesey foodbank has vowed to carry on despite being hit by fraud and theft.

Pantri No 6, on Lôn Goch, Amlwch, is still operating, although organisers claim they have lost a “lot of money”, due to theft and fraud committed by former volunteer Daniel Meredith ap Eifion Jones, from Amlwch.

Known locally as Dan Jones, the 39-year-old Amlwch town councillor, who pleaded guilty to charges of theft and fraud, was sentenced to a 13 week jail term, on each charge – a total of 26 weeks - suspended for 12 months, when he appeared last week at Caernarfon Crown Court.

The former Assembly candidate was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

In January 2015 The Chronicle reported the foodbank had been successful in obtaining a £300,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

Following news of the lottery grant and a bank statement being produced showing a substantial amount had been paid into the group’s bank account, the foodbank moved to a bigger premises from its first location at the Methodist Church, on Wesley Street, to No 6 on Queen Street.

But they later discovered the Big Lottery Fund had never received an application.

In mid 2015, The Chronicle reported that Jones had claimed to have met with a woman posing as a lottery representative, on four separate occasions, three times in Liverpool and once in his own home, and had fallen victim to a lottery scam.

Arrested and interviewed by police Jones again claimed to have been the victim of a scam.

Foodbank organiser Bronwen Westlake said: “We are all still trying to get our heads round it all. He showed us a fake bank statement and forged my email. We didn’t realise at the time. I have lost a lot of money, a lot of the volunteers’ own money has been used to pay back debts. I don’t think his sentence is enough.

“I just keep thinking ’how did we allow him to do what he did?’.

“It all came to light in June 2015. I went to the bank and realised something was wrong. It was on my wedding anniversary and I ended up spending the whole day trying to sort it out. It was a shock.

“I had been nursing my dad with lung cancer and later my husband had a heart attack. It had been a stressful time. Perhaps if all that hadn’t been going on, we wouldn’t have relied on him as much.

“He (Jones) lives in a fantasy world. He is deluded. The story in the Chronicle where he claimed we had got £300,000 from the lottery and that we had been scammed. It all turned out was fantasy, but he liked his publicity.

“We suddenly found we had bills. He managed to persuade a local butcher to supply meat. We thought he’d been paid, but we had to pay him £3,000 back.

“We also owed a plumber. There are other bills unpaid for rent, water, gas, some of which volunteers have paid for themselves.”

The foodbank helps about 15 to 20 people a week, serving about 800 meals, and has been running since 2013.

It claims because of Jones it had to move again, a third time, from Queen Street to council offices on Lôn Goch, on March 1, this year.

“After we moved the first time, and we didn’t get the lottery money, we couldn’t afford the rent and we got into arrears, but thankfully the council helped us to move again to set up the third premises on Lôn Goch,” said Mrs Westlake.

”We were advised to change the foodbank name. We were the ‘People of Anglesey Foodbank’ – a name Dan Jones came up with.”

Mrs Westlake has appealed for food and other donations, particularly Christmas food and items such as toiletries. Anyone who can help is asked to telephone 01407 839364. Pantri No 6 is open 11am-3pm, Wednesdays.

Email:

dale.spridgeon@nwn.co.uk

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