A “Walter Mitty character” who started a charity to support wounded veterans — only to scam tens of thousands of pounds from it — was jailed today.
James Reilly launched the Tayforth Veterans Project in Dundee amid a blaze of publicity in 2011, with TV star Lorraine Kelly doing the honours at the opening.
But just months later he began pocketing cash intended to help injured former military personnel.
Sheriff Alastair Brown jailed Reilly for 13 months.
Veterans and ex-trustees of the charity blasted the 66-year-old and the sentence he was given.
One said: “He should have got five years. He has conned so many people.”
Reilly was a project manager and trustee of the charity — aimed at helping wounded ex-servicemen and their families — and entrusted with the safekeeping of money.
Fiscal depute Joanne Smith told Dundee Sheriff Court evidence was found that Reilly had been making payments from the charity accounts into his personal bank accounts and he’d had a trustee sign blank cheques for him to use.
Miss Smith said: “The charity had received £122,616 in donations and he had transferred £60,000 of that money to his own account.
“He blamed the state of the accounts on the former trustees and said they should have taken some responsibility despite the fact only he had access to the accounts.”
Reilly, of Main Street, Balmullo, pleaded guilty to stealing £60,000 between February 2012 and October 2013.
Defence solicitor Billy Boyle said: “It seems he had a habit of paying out of his own pocket and claiming it back.
“He’s brought a great deal of shame and remorse on himself. This has been cataclysmic for him.”
Sheriff Alastair Brown said: “You were to administer the charity’s funds for the limited and specific reason of paying for charity activities.
“You ended up using the funds as a source of personal income.
“Money which was given for charitable purposes was diverted to your own accounts. The sense of betrayal you have caused to your former comrades is clear to see simply by looking at the public benches.”
A group of veterans attended the sentencing. Former marine Stuart Lavery, chairman of the 45 Commando Veterans group, said: “He is a Walter Mitty character.
“We gave him thousands of pounds over the years.”