Former USPCA chief appears in court on fraud charges

October 24, 2016

The former chief executive of the north’s largest animal welfare charity, the USPCA, has appeared in court last week charged with a series of fraud offences.

Stephen Philpott faced five criminal charges as he appeared at Newry Magistrates Court on Wednesday last.  The 53 year old is accused of two counts of fraud by abuse of position with regard to the receipt of rental income with the intention of personal gain for himself or another or causing loss or risk of loss to the USPCA.

A second charge of abuse of position relates to the alleged creation of a fake employment post in the USPCA for a female.  The ex-chief executive is also charged with conspiring with a woman to commit fraud by false representation in relation to the creation of a false job and he is accused of possessing criminal property, and a count of concealing criminal property, namely cash.

All of the offences were allegedly committed between January 2006 and November 2015.

Standing in the dock last week for the brief hearing, Mr Philpott spoke to confirm his name, date of birth and said he understood the charges facing him.

A PSNI detective constable told the court he could connect the accused to the charges.

Mr Philpott, from Ashgrove Road in Newry, was chief executive of the USPCA until his dismissal in July on grounds of misconduct.

He had been suspended in March following an independent investigation into the management of the charity which revealed “suspected irregularities” which the USPCA subsequently reported to the PSNI.

The former boss was arrested and questioned by detectives from the PSNI’s Economic Crime Unit last month before being released on bail.

In court on Wednesday, District Judge Eamonn King released Philpott on his own continuing bail of £250 and imposed two bail conditions – prohibiting him from making contact with any past or present employees of the USPCA, directly, indirectly or through a third party, and that he is to reside at his home in Newry until the next court appearance.

The case is due to be heard again on November 16.

A 52-year-old woman arrested along with Philpott last month has been reported to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).