Julian Andrews Emms found guilty of fraudulently taking ?16,500 from fund set up to pay for his dying son's medical treatment
A father who embezzled thousands of pounds from a bank account intended to pay for his dying son's medical treatment has been told to expect jail.
On Thursday a jury found Julian Andrews Emms guilty of fraudulently taking ?16,500 from the Michael Emms Fund.
Cardiff crown court heard the 46-year-old had asked two of its trustees, who were also his former in-laws David and Ann Brandon, for money so he could take his ill son on a ?3,000 holiday to New York.
After initially agreeing to write out two blank cheques, Mr and Mrs Brandon changed their minds and asked for them back. Emms, who was also a trustee of the fund, obliged and appeared to set fire to the cheques in front of the couple.
But in reality, he had only destroyed one and had already cashed the other.
A court previously heard it was only when Mrs Brandon went to the Lloyds TSB branch in Caldicot the next day that she realised ?16,500 had gone out of the account.
When arrested by police, Emms told officers he had spent it. He later admitted in court the money had been found in his attic.
But Emms, of Caerwent, Monmouthshire, south Wales, still protested his innocence ? saying he had not taken the money for his own use and that he was unhappy at the way Mr and Mrs Brandon were running the fund.
The jury sided with the prosecutor, Meirion Davies, who branded the defendant "despicable", "a liar" and "lacking in credibility", and returned a guilty verdict just 30 minutes after being sent out.
The fund had been set up in 2007, when Michael was told he had just years to live after becoming one of the youngest people in the world to be diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
The condition breaks down the nerve cells which control muscle activity and normally affects people aged 60 and over.
Donations to the fund set up in Michael's name at one stage topped ?55,000 and had previously been used to fund a trip to China, where Michael underwent stem cell treatment. However, it proved to be unsuccessful and Michael died in April 2011, aged 24.
David Watts, senior crown prosecutor for CPS Cymru-Wales, described the circumstances surrounding the case as sensitive.
He said: "The money that Emms fraudulently used was intended for charitable causes connected to his son's motor neurone disease. I'm sure that many who gave to the fund will feel let down and angry to learn what happened to the money they contributed in good faith.
"The particular circumstances surrounding this case undoubtedly make it an especially sensitive one. However, as prosecuting authorities, we have to remain dispassionate when dealing with cases like this.
"We have to treat this like any other case and present the prosecution case purely on the basis of the evidence available.
"By working in close partnership with Gwent police, we were able to build a robust case that has led to today's conviction."
Recorder Robert Britton adjourned sentencing until 16 March, so that a report on Emms could be completed.
However, before releasing him on bail, Britton told the defendant: "You will receive a custodial sentence, it is just a question of how long. But before that happens, I should learn more about you first."