'Manipulative' woman whose theft destroyed Yorkshire community centre ordered to repay £30,000

Heather Drive, Halifax
Heather Drive, Halifax
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The former manager of a West Yorkshire parents resource centre has been ordered to hand over almost £30,000 in compensation or face a longer prison sentence.

Back in April 65-year-old Halifax woman Elizabeth Childs was jailed for three-and-a-half years after she stole from the Mixenden Parents Resource Centre over a five-year period.

The lottery-backed centre had been helping people for decades, but Bradford Crown Court heard at her trial that Childs’ offending “destroyed” its ability to raise funds and led to it closing in 2018.

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Childs, of Heather Drive, Mount Tabor, had been manager at the centre for about 18 years, but she was described by witnesses as being “manipulative and controlling”.

In an impact statement read to the court in April Councillor Meghan Swift said Childs had been employed to help improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable and least well off families and children in Mixenden.

“The centre had for decades provided support especially to younger parents who would otherwise have struggled with the challenges of parenting,” she said.

“It also provided a place for older people to come and have lunch, meet friends and have a regular social life.”

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She said Childs’ actions had “destroyed” the centre’s ability to raise funds and described the closure, which led to redundancy for six staff, as a direct consequence of the offending.

Today (Mon) Childs was brought to Bradford Crown Court from custody to face a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act legislation.

Prosecutor Paul Nicholson told Judge Jonathan Gibson that an agreement had been reached in the case and Childs’ benefit from criminal conduct had been assessed as £29, 811.93.

He confirmed that Childs had available assets to meet that sum and he asked the judge to make an order for it to be paid as compensation within three months.

Barrister Abigail Langford confirmed that the available amount actually exceeded the benefit figure and there were assets which could be realised.

“It is understood an application can be made to the court administratively by my solicitors if further time is required,” she added.

Judge Gibson said he was pleased to hear that an agreement had been reached.

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“It is always better when the proceedings are agreed and everybody can work towards proper payment of the money that needs to be paid and ultimately it is going to go into compensation to the Mixenden Parents Resource Centre which is where it should go,” he told Childs.

He told Childs that the money should be paid over by November 4 or she would face a further eight months in prison in default.

“So keep in touch with your lawyers and they will inform you of the next steps that need to be taken,” he told Childs before she was taken back into custody to continue serving her prison sentence.