A woman has admitted fraud by abuse of her position at a dog welfare charity involving an amount of more than £5,000.
Adrianne Peltz (34), of Beatrice Road, Bangor, County Down, has admitted using a Dogs Trust credit card for personal expenditures.
She appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday where defence barrister Stephen Law said it was a guilty plea and that a pre-sentence report would be needed.
The defendant did not speak and stood near the public gallery during the short hearing.
Her lawyer said discussions had been ongoing relating to the exact amount of money involved in the fraud and he said the figure had now been “amended” to £5,393. No other figure has yet been mentioned in court.
The ‘fraud by abuse of position’ charge relates to dates between April 10 and October 12 in 2017.
The full charge reads: ‘Defendant on dates between the 10th day of April 2017 and the 12th day of October 2017 whilst occupying a position in which you were expected to safeguard, or not to act against, the financial interests of Dogs Trust, dishonestly abused that position in that you used a company credit card for personal expenditures with the intention, by means of the abuse of that position to make a gain for yourself or another or to cause loss to Dogs Trust or to expose Dogs Trust to a risk of a loss, in breach of section 4 of the Fraud Act 2006, contrary to Section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006’.
The full details of the case have yet to be outlined to the court and the the matter was adjourned until September for a pre-sentence report to be prepared.
Previous press statements from the Dogs Trust, which a centre in Ballymena, said Peltz was the charity’s Campaigns Manager for Northern Ireland.
She has a high media profile in Northern Ireland.
She has been a spokeswoman for Amnesty International in NI and, on Thursday, was pictured on the Victim Support NI website as being on its board of trustees.
Victim Support NI is an independent charity supporting people affected by crime.
Following Thursday’s court hearing, Victim Support NI said in a statement to ‘Ballymena Daily’: “Victim Support NI is aware of legal proceedings involving Adrianne Peltz, which occurred prior to her voluntary role with Victim Support NI. The Board of Victim Support NI are aware of the situation and are taking appropriate steps in line with our code of conduct. We have no further comment to make at this time.”
The defendant is originally from South Africa but has lived in Northern Ireland for a number of years and her other leading roles included the student union sector.
She has also frequently been a media commentator.
The Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity and cares for over 15,000 dogs each year through a network of 20 rehoming centres in the UK including one in Ballymena.
When the case first came to court in July, a Dogs Trust spokesperson had said afterwards: “We can confirm that following an internal investigation we referred a case to the police following financial discrepancies relating to a company credit card used by one of our former employees. The employee had left our employment by the time we discovered the financial discrepancies.”
Following Thursday’s court proceedings, a Dogs Trust spokesperson said in a new statement to ‘Ballymena Daily’: “Dogs Trust relies on the enormous generosity of the public to continue caring for over 15,000 dogs every year. It is of paramount importance to us that we use our funds in the best way possible, so the public has confidence that their donations are being spent wisely.
“Events such as this are rare for us and we take them very seriously. We have taken appropriate steps to recover the funds where possible, so that we can put them back into the vital work we do. We would like to thank the police for their prompt assistance in this matter.”
A bio for Peltz on the Victim Support website reads: ‘Adrianne Peltz is a Campaigns Consultant who has directed and delivered complex national campaigns with leading charities such as Amnesty International and Dogs Trust, and managed strategic political campaigns with the Labour Party and Britain Stronger in Europe. She also is a Higher Education reviewer for the Quality Assurance Agency.
‘An outspoken activist and campaigner for equality in NI, Adrianne grew up in post-apartheid South Africa, and served as President of NI’s student movement before taking up a role as Vice-Chair of Membership for the Labour Party in NI. She has a wealth of governance experience having previously served as a Trustee for SHAC housing, a Governor for SERC, a non-executive director of NUS, and a parent representative for her local YMCA.’