“I would like him to have been locked up and the keys thrown away”

Albi Elliot
Albi Elliot

A witness has deplored the actions of a father who stole donations raised for his terminally ill daughter.

Albi Elliot has been sentenced to three years in prison after stealing £3,500 in charity money which had been donated to fund a trip of a lifetime for his daughter, 11-year-old Ashanti Elliot-Smith, from Burgess Hill.

Clive Etherington, social secretary at the Sussex British Motor Cycle Owners Club, which raised the money for Ashanti, was the man who discovered the fraud, reported Albi to the police and spoke as a witness in the case.

Clive said: “I would like him to have been locked up and the keys thrown away.

“Having children myself and grandchildren and great grandchildren I found it very hard to think that you could do something to your child like that.

“That is, to me, the lowest of the low.”

Ashanti suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, which makes her age eight times faster than other people and children born with the disorder usually only live to around the age of 13.

The club raised the money to send her to America to go swimming with dolphins but Albi spent it all on Tesco, car insurance and cash withdrawals.

Clive added: “Due to this nasty event the club decided that we would no longer sponsor any single individual. That was a sad day when we made that choice.”

Albi Elliot, 44, of Vines Cross, Heathfield, was sentenced at Chichester Crown Court on June 24, for fraud regarding the money the club had raised through several events in 2009 and 2010.

Clive was there when Albi was presented the cheque on December 9 2010. He said that Albi asked for the cheque to be made out to ‘A.Elliott’ which the club assumed would be used to put in Ashanti’s account.

When Ashanti’s mother Phoebe called Clive in 2011 to ask if she and Ashanti could attend a club event, Clive said he mentioned the money they had previously donated, to which Phoebe replied: “what money?”

Clive said: “The line just went quiet as though she went into shock.”

Clive spoke as a witness in court and he said the judge deplored Albi’s acts.

He said: “He was disgusted with him.”

Albi told police that the money was in a safe at his mother’s house but when the police went to his mother’s, she told them she had not seen Albi for four years.

Sussex Police said the case was investigated by DC Jennie Hutchinson from West Sussex CID.

DC Hutchinson said; “Elliott kept the money and spent it on himself, including his own holidays and general living expenses.

“I would like to thank all the witnesses involved that have assisted in getting to a guilty verdict.”