A FORMER Mansfield union leader who stole almost £150,000 from a charity for sick miners was today (Friday) jailed for his ‘calculated and sophisticated greed’.
Neil Greatrex, ex-Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM) president, was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing money intended for a miners’ home.
A judge slammed the thefts from Phoenix Nursing and Residential Home, describing them as a ‘breach of the highest degree of trust’.
Birmingham Crown Court was told Greatrex pilfered the cash over a five-year period between 2000 and 2006 despite earning more than £110,000 in his role as union president.
In total, he used £148,628.83 of the charity’s money to pay for outside paving and new windows and doors for his home as well as the home of co-director Mick Stevens (60), the court was told.
Greatrex (61) even splashed out on a new £11,750 kitchen for his home using the charity’s funds.
Both he and Mr Stevens were trustees of the charity set up to run the home in Chapel St Leonards, Lincolnshire.
Judge John Wait said Greatrex had earned much respect during his time as union president.
But he criticised Greatrex for using his ‘pre-eminent’ position to secure funds for himself.
The judge said: “Over the five year period of this indictment you stole very nearly £150,000 from those you held office to protect.
“This was theft in breach of the highest degree of trust.
“It was carried out over an extended period by the person in whom the highest trust had been placed.
“It was done for greed, the thefts were covered by invoices procured from traders who were persuaded to supply the false invoice in order to secure payment.”
Greatrex, from Stanley, near Teversal, showed no emotion during his sentencing and waved to members of his family in the public gallery as he was led away to start his sentence.
Christopher Sallon QC, defending Greatrex, said he was ‘instrumental’ in the sale of the Phoenix Home, which was bought for £1.65m in 2007.
He said it would have fetched a higher price but Greatrex had insisted that the staff would be kept on as a term of the sale.
Mr Sallon added that Greatrex and his family had been subjected to harassment since the end of his trial earlier this month.
He said: “Since his conviction he and members of his family have been the victims of sustained harassment, with unsolicited text messages containing threats demanding money for those from whom it was said to have been stolen, namely miners.
“Political animosity is now being channelled into these kinds of communications.”
The court was told that a police investigation into the alleged threats against Greatrex and his family has been launched.
Greatrex was convicted on 14 theft charges by a jury at Nottingham Crown Court earlier this month.
UDM general secretary Mr Stevens, who was accused of the same charges, was cleared by the jury.
Greatrex spent more than 20 years in the National Union of Mineworkers before forming the UDM in 1985.
He became a controversial figure for speaking out against NUM president Arthur Scargill’s tactics in the 1985 strikes.
A further hearing to decide issues of confiscation, compensation and costs will be held on 29th June.