A CHARITY boss has spoken out after being convicted of council tax fraud.
Sheila Stewart, who runs Capricorn Animal Rescue in Padeswood, was handed a two-year conditional discharge after failing to declare her son had moved in with her, which meant she was overpaid £301 in council tax benefit.
At a sentencing hearing Mold Magistrates Court heard Mrs Stewart would be banned from holding office as a trustee for the animal charity and was ordered to pay £368 in court costs.
But she said there has been no decision made yet on whether she will lose her trustee status.
“It’s business as usual here.
“I have spoken to the Charity Commission and things are going to carry on as they are at the moment.
“They are looking at all the facts and will then make a decision on whether I will have to stand down as trustee.
“If I do, it will be for two years but I’ll be able to carry on as administrator and will be reinstated as trustee at the end of the two years.”
The 64-year-old, of Padeswood Lake Road, said she had simply made “an honest mistake”.
She said she did not know she should have notified Flintshire Council about her change in circumstances, which affected how much council tax benefit she was eligible for, as soon as her son Robert moved in with her.
And when she was sent a renewal form she “quite openly” told them the date he had arrived.
“When my husband died and my son took over the lease we needed 24-hour emergency cover for the animals and that’s when he decided to stay with me.
“It was just one of those simple things that got overlooked and could happen to anyone.
“There’s an awful lot to do here.”
Mrs Stewart founded Capricorn Animal Rescue with her late husband about 30 years ago and Mrs Stewart currently lives on-site with the help of two full-time employees and about 20 volunteers.
She added: “At all times I was honest and truthful.”