“WICKED” fraudsters who stole more than £300,000 from a Clacton children’s charity have been jailed.

Ruksana Khan and James Donovan, both of Westfield Road, Blackpool, were jailed for more than eight years on Thursday, June 13.

Khan, 68, had admitted defrauding the non-profit organisation over a four-year period, from 2011 to 2015, when she appeared at  Chelmsford Crown Court in 2021.

The court held a Newton hearing to agree facts of the case before sentencing, in relation to the offence Khan had pleaded guilty to.

Khan had admitted £80,000 worth of theft, but at the hearing last week it was found the defendant had actually stolen £315,000 from the charity.

Donovan, 58, denied three counts of fraud but was found guilty by a jury at the same court in January this year.

Khan was sentenced to five years and 11 months in prison while Donovan was jailed for three years. 

Recorder William Clegg KC said: “It’s difficult to imagine a more wicked fraud than this as you have deprived disabled and terminally ill children by defrauding the charity for your own pocket.”

The sentencing followed a complex investigation by a team from Clacton’s Criminal Investigation Department, which dated back to 2017.

The court heard how Khan set up Kidz Come First in 2011.

She ran the charity from her previous home address in Clacton, which she shared with Donovan, who was a charity trustee from its inception.

Following complaints received by the Charity Commission, a police investigation was launched.

The charity had people collecting cash for them up and down the country under the premise of providing funds to support children with disabilities or terminal illnesses.

But large sums were actually being used by both defendants for their personal gain, including gambling and paying household bills, after thousands of pounds were paid into their personal bank accounts.

While the charity did help some families, others were promised respite holidays, equipment and even a ground floor extension for a disabled wet room.

These promises were never fulfilled.

Lead investigating officer Detective Constable Claire March said: “Khan set up the charity with a clear motive from the beginning to steal funds for their gambling addictions and lifestyle.  

“They have both received the sentences they deserve.”

She added that police are in the process of applying for confiscation orders to recoup some of the money that was stolen.

A Charity Commission spokesperson said: “We expect anyone working on behalf of a charity to do so with integrity.

“These individuals took advantage of public generosity and diverted much needed funds away from causes people care about.

“The verdict sends a strong warning to anyone seeking to misuse public goodwill for their own benefit, that they will be held to account.

“Most fundraising is genuine but on rare occasions when it isn’t, the Commission will intervene.

They continued: “Our work was instrumental in putting a stop to this fraudulent operation.

“Working with the police and other law enforcement agencies is essential to detecting, deterring and preventing financial abuse so the British public can feel confident their charitable donations are being put to the intended use.”