Fraudulent poppy seller caught at Grantham Hospital sentenced

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A 20-year-old has pleaded guilty to three offences in relation to falsely collecting charitable contributions while wearing a military uniform.

Michael Harry Cumiskey, of Autram Street, Darlington appeared at Grantham Magistrates’ Court in custody after failing to surrender at Grantham police station on December 9.

He admitted this offence as well as to wearing a British Army combat uniform bearing a regimental cap badge without permission on November 12.

Cumiskey also pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation to members of the public in order to make a gain for himself or cause loss to others.

Prosecutor Marie Stace described how on November 12 police officers were called to Grantham Hospital’s A&E department to reports that a man was being aggressive towards staff.

On arrival they found the defendant dressed in a British Army uniform signifying that he was the rank of corporal.

Cumiskey had told staff that he was part of the Royal Signals unit in the territorial army, and based at the Prince William of Gloucester Barracks in Grantham, but the police pointed out that this did not coincide with the uniform he was wearing.

When questioned Cumiskey said he had swapped his uniform for another, and that he had just returned from London after paying his respects at the Remembrance commemorations.

Miss Stace added that in his possession Cumiskey had poppies, wristbands, sponsorship forms and lots of coins and cash, as he had been telling members of the public that he was going to take part in the 2014 5k poppy run for the Royal British Legion in Newcastle.

However, checks revealed that no further poppy runs were scheduled to take place this year, and that Cumiskey had not registered his sponsorship with the Royal British Legion.

Cumiskey was arrested and did admit to wearing the uniform without permission having bought it at an army surplus store, although he said that he did not intend to deceive and that he was planning to do a charity run organised by himself.

The defendant told police that he was actually unemployed and had previously been an army cadet. He added that he was wearing the unform to show his respect, and that he did not realise it was an offence.

Chris Pye-Smith, defending, highlighted that his client had no previous convictions for dishonesty offences, and that he had reiterated how it was his intention to do the charity run and give the money to the Royal British Legion.

Mr Pye-Smith said: “While his intention may have been a good one, the way he did it clearly wasn’t.”

The court also heard how Cumiskey suffers from ADHD and was currently being assessed for autism.

In relation to his client’s failure to surrender to the police station, Mr Pye-Smith said that Cumiskey’s grandmother had passed away recently and he was feeling unwell at the time.

Magistrates sentenced Cumiskey to 30 hours’ imprisonment, which he has already served following his failure to surrender.

For the offence of fraud, Cumiskey was fined £75, and must also pay prosecution costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £20, with no separate penalty made for the offence of wearing the uniform without permission.

The chairman of the magistrates added: “It is extremely shabby, bearing in mind how many people died so people like you could be free.”