A Dundee couple taken in by veterans charity fraudster James Reilly say they were conned right up until the pensioner’s shock guilty plea.
Charlie and Jill Stewart counted Reilly, 66, as a friend and helped raise funds for his charity, Tayforth Veterans Project.
Reilly, who claims to have served as a Royal Navy diver, admitted fraudulently obtaining £60,000 from the Tayforth Veterans Project in City Quay.
The 66-year-old helped set up the charity in 2011.
On Thursday, at Dundee Sheriff Court, Reilly was sent to jail for 13 months as former friends and comrades looked on.
Several uniformed marines had travelled to Dundee Sheriff Court in June to witness Reilly plead guilty.
While some had previously expressed concerns over Reilly’s behaviour, Mr Stewart, who suffers from complex post-traumatic stress disorder after serving with the RAF, says he was stunned to learn Reilly had admitted the fraud.
Charlie, who attended Tayforth Veterans Project for support, and wife Jill had worked tirelessly to raise funds for Reilly’s charity. Both only learned of Reilly’s guilty plea after seeing it in the paper.
Charlie and Jill are now both concerned Veterans First Point ( a group formerly associated with Tayforth Veterans Project), which is run by NHS Tayside, will be tarnished by Reilly’s crimes.
Charlie revealed: “It’s not enough (Reilly’s sentence). He conned us right up until the very end.
“We both did a lot of charity work for him. We saw him a couple of months ago and had a cup of tea and some cake.
“The next thing I saw he was pleading guilty. I was like: ‘You’re kidding?’.
“Veterans First Point do a lot of good work, but it’s hard for them.
“I would hate for anyone to think they (Veterans First Point) are involved in this. I’ve been getting intensive treatment and therapy and I wouldn’t have got that if it weren’t for Veterans First Point.
“I don’t want people saying ‘let’s not go there’. It’s nothing to do with them. They do a great job, that has to be publicised.”
Charlie’s wife Jill helped organise fundraising nights and awareness events for Reilly’s charity and says she feels “guilty” by her association with him.
Jill said: “I feel so bad. Four or five local bands gave up their time to play gigs and raise funds.
“We’re also into motorbikes and, with friends, named our club the Tayforth Veterans Motorcycling Club. It can’t be that name now — it’s tarnished.
“I wasn’t able to sleep the other night. I feel partly guilty.
“We just want to help people, unlike him (Reilly).”
Charlie added: “£60,000 will be just the tip of the iceberg, I would imagine. It just makes you feel that everything was a lie. Mainly, you feel horrible.”
Reilly was employed as a peer support worker for Veterans First Point, who are part run by NHS Tayside
Following Thursday’s sentence, an NHS Tayside spokesman said: “NHS Tayside is currently following due management process with regard to this individual.”