A Vines Cross, Heathfield, man has been jailed for stealing charity money raised to send his terminally ill daughter to swim with dolphins.
Albi Elliot has been sentenced to three years in prison after stealing £3,500 from a charity which had donated money to fund a trip of a lifetime for 11-year-old Ashanti Elliot-Smith, from Burgess Hill.
Ashanti suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, which makes her age eight times faster than other people.
Albi Elliot, 44, was sentenced at Chichester Crown Court on June 24 for fraud regarding the money donated by the Sussex British Motor Cycle Owners Club in Littlehampton on December 9 2010. Sussex Police said the case was investigated by DC Jennie Hutchinson, from West Sussex CID.
Police said money was raised by the club so Ashanti could visit Orlando in Florida and swim with the dolphins.
DC Hutchinson said: “Elliott kept the money and spent it on himself, including his own holidays and general living expenses. I would like to thank all the witnesses involved that have assisted in getting to a guilty verdict.”
Pop fan Ashanti had one of her dreams made come true by charity Rays of Sunshine in 2011. The charity invited Ashanti and her mother, Phoebe Smith, to a concert where she was able to meet her favourite pop band, JLS.
The Sussex British Motorcycle Owners’ Club (SBMCOC)held its first annual Bulldog Run and raised more than £1,000 for Ashanti in 2010.
Spokesman Clive Etherington said of Elliot: “I would like him to have been locked up and the keys thrown away.
“Having children myself, grandchildren and great grandchildren, I found it very hard to think you could do something to your child like that. That is to me the lowest of the low. Due to this nasty event the club decided we would no longer sponsor any single individual. That was a sad day when we made that choice.”
He said that Elliott asked for the cheque to be made out to ‘A. Elliott’ which the club assumed would be used to put in Ashanti’s account.
When Ashanti’s mother Phoebe called Clive in 2011 to ask if she and Ashanti could attend a club event, Clive mentioned the money they had previously donated, to which Phoebe replied: “what money?” Clive said Elliott told police that the money was in a safe at his mother’s house but when police went there she said she had not seen Elliott for four years.