A Bristol man who let people believe they were donating money to charity has today been sentenced at Bristol Crown Court to five months imprisonment following a guilty plea.
Tyler Parton and his staff stood on the streets and created a misleading impression that they were charity collectors, collecting money for children’s cancer, when in fact the money was shared between him and his team.
Mr Parton, of St Bernards Road, Shirehampton, claims he ran a children’s cancer support group selling leaflets, which he alleges were periodicals, saying that the money raised helps to provide nutritional advice and support for the families of children with cancer.
Mr Parton and his staff sought to obtain cash from the public by shouting out the name of the leaflet and other comments including “50p for Chidren’s Cancer Prevention” whilst holding sealed collection buckets and shaking these at passers-by. The collectors would all wear official looking T-shirts and ID badges.
Mr Parton claims that he was operating a business selling these leaflets, however Bristol City Council, prosecuting, allege that this behaviour misled the public into believing they were giving donations to a cancer charity.
He operated under a number of different trading names such as Salubrious Periodicals, News Vending Solutions, and Natural Prevention while collecting money from the public, which he then kept. Mr Parton also used a number of charity style trading names including Children’s Cancer Support, Children’s Cancer Prevention, and Natural Prevention Children’s Cancer Support, which he shortened to NPCCS. He claimed that the closeness to NSPCC was purely coincidental.
The leaflet, which consisted of a sheet of A4 paper printed on both sides, contained articles relating to cancer that Mr Parton had extracted from the internet. He changed the article every couple of months and put an issue number on the paper as well a suggested price of 50p.
Bristol City Council’s Trading Standards team began to investigate Mr Parton in 2017, and spoke to enforcement officers across the country where it became clear that the sellers were not actually selling the leaflet that they were claiming to be selling as part of their business. They were merely collecting donations from people passing by who believed that they were supporting a charity. They would occasionally hand the leaflet out to those who had put money in the bucket.
Bristol Trading Standards spoke to people who had put money in the collectors’ buckets and asked them what they thought was happening, and every one of them believed they were donating to a children’s cancer prevention charity.
Cllr Steve Pearce, Cabinet Member for Bristol City Council Regulatory Services said: “All that money should have been going to children’s cancer charities and instead it was spent by Mr Parton and his staff.
“Mr Parton’s actions have diverted money away from real charities and it is simply not acceptable. He has conned people into thinking they are supporting a charity and taking advantage of their generous nature.
“Exploiting the generosity of general public who believed they were donating to a genuine charitable cause is a truly despicable act.
“This was a well organised operation, using a very emotive subject to target innocent members of the public.
“This prosecution is believed to be the first case of its kind prosecuted by a local authority, but we want to send a clear message to anyone carrying out a similar activity, that we will not allow this to happen in Bristol.”
A search of Parton’s home in December 2017 discovered thousands of bank coin bags and two coin counting and sorting machines and it was discovered that Mr Parton was paying the money from the buckets into his own bank account. Documents were also recovered that showed that the collector on the street ‘earned’ 50% of the contents of the bucket, and Parton kept the remaining 50%.
After carry out a financial investigation, it was clear that Mr Parton had paid over £150,000 into his account from the collection buckets in the last three years. In that time, nothing was donated to charity.