THE director of the Dean Heritage Centre defrauded the charity-run museum out of almost £1,500 by falsely claiming he had paid two bills from his own pocket, a jury was told.

Nicholas Wood, 39, told the centre’s finance officer he had used his personal credit card to book an open air cinema operator and to pay for a consignment of sand to fill childrens playpits in the picnic area, Gloucester Crown Court heard.

But neither transaction had been carried out, the prosecution alleged.

Mr Wood of Brains Green, Awre, denies the two alleged frauds and is standing trial at Cirencester Courthouse.

Prosecutor Chloe Griggs told the jury "We say that during his time as director he created false receipts to fraudulently claim reimbursements.

"With regard to the open air cinema, which was his idea, we say that no such item was ever paid for and he did it to make a gain for himself.

"The bags of sand he said he had ordered was a similar mechanism - creating and submitting a false receipt and keeping the money."

Ms Griggs said staff at the centre in Soudley checked out the two purchases and found they were allegedly false they called in the police and Mr Wood was interviewed.

"He accepted he had created false receipts," she said.

"But he said the Chair of the Trustees of the centre had encouraged him to create them in order to satisfy the finance officer that the expenditure had been made."

Ms Griggs added: “He said they did that together because they had both decided that the items would be purchased at a later date and they needed to ring-fence the money. He said he was not acting dishonestly.”

The total obtained by Mr Wood from the two alleged frauds was £1,492, she said.

“It is not a significant sum of money but the centre is a registered charity which is heavily reliant on donations and we say the loss to the charity was therefore a significant one.”

In evidence Louise Hall, the centre’s finance officer, said Mr Wood joined as director in Spring 2019 and he proposed the open-air cinema idea that June.

He then phoned her saying he had booked the cinema and asking her to reimburse him the £750 hire fee because he had paid it on his own credit card, she said.

He did not have a receipt for it but she made the payment to him because he was her boss and she ‘felt pressured,’ she added.

“I didn’t feel I could overrule that in my position.”

She paid him first £500 and then a further £250 and she then asked him numerous times for a receipt, she said.

In July she did get a receipt from him and filed it.

Ms Hall said the open air cinema event never took place and when she asked him to get a refund from the company he said he had been trying to contact them but they never received his calls.

Regarding the plan for sandpits in the picnic area she said that was also Mr Wood’s idea and he told her he had paid £744 for the sand from his own credit card. Again he asked for reimbursement and he provided a receipt.

But the sand never arrived and in winter she spoke to him and suggested seeking a refund from the company, she said

“He said the company had bought in specialist sand specially for us and they couldn’t refund it.”

Later on, she said, she decided to check out the two invoices and she phoned the sand company, Hills, who said they had no record of any order from the centre. She emailed them a copy of the receipt and they said it was not in their format.

Meanwhile,she said, the centre manager Joanne Clarke made similar enquiries about the cinema invoice.

Mr Wood denies two charges of fraud between June 1 and August 1 2019 relating to the cinema and the sand companies and the trial continues.