A FRAUDSTER who abused his position as a trustee of a disabled children’s charity and stole thousands of pounds has been found guilty by a jury.

James Donovan, of Westfield Road, Blackpool, stood trial at Chelmsford Crown Court last week charged with three counts of fraud.

He was accused of taking money from the Clacton-based charity Kidz Come First.

The trial came after his partner, Ruksana Khan, was convicted in 2021 for defrauding the non-profit over a four-year period from 2011 to 2015.

Khan, who has 28 fraud convictions dating back to the 1980s, set up the Kidz Come First account in Donovan’s name.

The court heard how Khan eventually confessed to Donovan after a meeting with the Charities Commission in 2014 that she had spent tens of thousands of pounds in donations to fuel her gambling addiction.

Donovan, however, denied any form of involvement with the charity and told the court he didn’t attend meetings or collect donations.

He also said he had no access to his or the charity’s bank account, having handed control to his partner because he had an alcohol problem.

Donovan, 48, told the court both he and Khan had a heated exchange before he took back control of his bank accounts.

At one stage of the trial, Lucy Sweetland, prosecuting, said: “You ended the relationship and made sure there were no transactions between you after that.

“The extent to which she was abusing your account – did you decide to start looking at your bank statements after that?”

Donovan replied: “After that, yes.”

But the prosecution told the court how statements showed thousands of pounds were still being exchanged between Donovan and Khan’s account in the weeks following the meeting with the Charities’ Commission.

Sweetland added: “They [the transactions] were continuing – how would they have continued if she didn’t have access to these accounts?

“You seem to remember perfectly well that you had removed her access to your accounts and were looking carefully at your statements.”

Donovan then backtracked, saying: “I’ve never been one to look at bank statements.”

The jury was discharged on Friday, and returned a unanimous guilty verdict after deliberating for four hours and twenty minutes.

Donovan will be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday, February 23.