A heartless teenager who pocketed £6,500 by setting up a fake GoFundMe page for four young men who car crash has been spared jail – and has been told to do rehab instead.
Kyle Saunders set up the fundraising page in the memory of Matthew Parke, Corey Owen, Ryan Nelson and Jordan Rawlings, who were killed in a crash on the A4 in August 2020.
The Volkswagen Polo they were in, driven by Jordan, had crashed into a house and burst into flames.
But Saunders, from Blackbird Court in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, set up the page pretending to raise money in their memory, when he actually kept the money for himself.
Saunders previously admitted organising the made-up money spinner in memory of the pals who died.
He was given a one-year community order with 150 hours’ unpaid work at Swindon Magistrates’ Court.
Kyle Saunders (pictured) set up the fundraising page in the memory of Matthew Parke, Corey Owen, Ryan Nelson and Jordan Rawlings, who were killed in a crash on the A4in August 2020
JPs also ordered him to carry out 12 days rehabilitation activity ‘to address his offending’ and to pay £2,000 compensation to GoFundMe Ltd – the company he defrauded.
Saunders from Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, who appeared in person before the bench, had been bailed after pleading guilty to fraud by false representation at the same court last month.
Matthew Parke and Corey Owen, both 19, and 20-year-olds Ryan Nelson and Jordan Rawlings were killed when their car crashed into a house and burst into flames on the A4 in Derry Hill, near Calne, Wiltshire, in August 2020.
The death of the close friends shocked the local community and donations flooded in for a proposed memorial for them.
Saunders, then 17, created a GoFundMe account called ‘Jordan, Corey, Matt, Ryan Memorial’ and published the fundraiser on local Facebook pages, stating the money would go towards a shrine for the tragic victims.
A total of £6,479 was donated to the fundraiser but no memorial ever emerged.
Corey Owen (left) and Ryan Nelson were two of the four young men who died after the car in which they were travelling crashed into a house near Calne, Wiltshire and caught fire
The death of the close friends shocked the local community and donations flooded in for a proposed memorial for them. Left and right, Matthew Parke and Jordan Rawlings
The teen can be named having turned 18 since his arrest in October last year by Wiltshire Police.
Saunders previously told how he had received death threats.
Speaking outside his family home last autumn, where he agreed to be pictured, he claimed he had moved temporarily to Wiltshire. He said he knew of the four victims through pals but didn’t know them personally.
He claimed he shared a link to the memorial fund on his Snapchat, saying there had been ‘an issue’ but was unsure what because he ‘suddenly started getting loads of abuse and s**t’ and death threats.’
He said: ‘I shared a link to let my mates know about the fund so they could donate. They were young lads who died, my age, it was horrible.
‘I didn’t know them but at the time I was living in Wiltshire. I thought it was a nice gesture but it was taken the wrong way by random people.
‘I suddenly started getting loads of abuse and s**t and people said they wanted to kill me.
‘I didn’t know what I had done wrong. I was trying to do a nice thing by sharing a link then everyone’s after me.’
Scorched grass and boarded up windows were seen on the house the car crashed into next to the A4 near Derry Hill, Calne, Wiltshire
Saunders, of Wellingborough, Northamptonshire pleaded guilty to the offence
Talking before he pleaded guilty to the offence he had insisted: ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’
He said he didn’t report the alleged death threats against him to police because it was a ‘sensitive subject.’
Gym fanatic Saunders, who studies electrics at college, lives with his parents and eight siblings.
His builder dad Jason Macdonald, 37, said at the time: ‘People have been terrorising Kyle over this. He’s a good lad, he’s a nice lad. He’s not a monster.’
‘He was 17 at the time and it’s been a frightening experience. This is my kid, people have been hurt.’
Kind-hearted locals who made contributions to the fake campaign are being refunded their donations.
A GoFundMe spokesperson said: ‘All donors will be refunded.
‘Misuse of GoFundMe is completely unacceptable and we will always work with police and authorities in the rare occasions it occurs.’
An inquest into the four deaths heard the doomed VW Polo car could have been travelling at 120mph before the crash and driver Jordan Rawlings was over the legal alcohol limit.
The hearing at Wiltshire Coroner’s Court last July heard the desperate attempts by passers-by to try and save the young men.
A lorry driver, taxi driver and his passengers all described hearing screaming and shouting from the burning car but were forced back from rescuing them because of the ferocious flames and extreme heat.
Police said their families had been kept updated on the investigation.
Source: Daily Mail