An Alford man who stole £950 donated for a plaque in memory of his dead brother has apologised after being given a suspended sentence by a judge.
Ford North, 26, of Chauntry Road, Alford, had pleaded guilty to one charge of theft and two charges of fraud between January 1 and February 28, 2017.
His brother, Chase Tate, 23, died in a hit and run incident on the A1104 at Miles Cross Hill, Ulceby, near Alford, on Saturday 7 January, 2017.
Lincoln Crown Court heard North accepted donations of £50 and £900 from two friends after stating that he was raising funds for a memorial plaque at the scene of his brother’s death.
Mark Knowles, prosecuting, said: “Mr North stated on messenger that he wanted to put a memorial plaque at the spot where his brother was killed which would include the names of all those that had donated.”
During police interview North denied that he had made any financial gain for himself and claimed he had been “set up.”
But Dharmendra Toor, mitigating, said North now admitted taking the money after turning back to drink and drugs.
Mr Toor told the court: “I accept there was an abuse of responsibility as his friends provided money for something that never materialised.
“The main mitigating feature is that he has never done anything like this before.
“More importantly this was born out of a relapse with alcohol and drugs. He relapsed because of the death of his brother.”
The court heard North was also in poor health due to arthritis and epilepsy.
North was sentenced to eight months imprisonment suspended for 18 months.
Passing sentence Judge Simon Hirst told North his offending was “mean.”
But the judge said he could narrowly avoid an immediate jail sentence because of his lack of similar offending.
The judge told North: “This was mean offending. Your friends gave you money for your brother.
“I accept you had a difficult time of it when your brother died. You took to drink and drugs.
“I imagine the money you collected fell to temptation.”
Speaking outside court North said he was sorry for what he had done and insisted he was not a bad person.
North said: “I’m not a bad person. I made a genuine mistake.
“When my brother was killed I went onto drugs and alcohol.
“I’ve never been given any counselling. I haven’t had the chance to come to terms with losing my brother.
“I loved my brother. He was not only my brother he was my best friend.
“I had formed the idea of doing something like a plaque. I just lost control of it.
“Since this I’ve received death threats and all sorts. I’m not a bad guy. I made a mistake.”
In January this year, the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership made an appeal for further information on the first anniversary of Chase’s death.
It is believed Chase was walking on the road towards Ulceby Cross from Alford at around 5am when he was struck and killed by a vehicle.
The vehicle that hit him failed to stop.
Two people were arrested last year in relation to the incident, however no action has been taken.
A spokesperson for Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership said: “Police have spoken to everyone they know who used that road on the morning Chase was killed.
“Extensive enquiries have been carried out locally, however, officers have an open mind and believe someone may have information that will give the family of Chase answers as to what happened to their son that night.
“Do you know someone who was there that day but have not spoken to the police?
“Have you heard anything or been told something by someone who was there on the day?
“Have you any information you feel the police should know?”
If you know anything, please call the police on 101.