A lorry driver from the Harborough area badgered the widow of murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby to endorse his bogus charity events, a court was told yesterday (Tuesday, August 4).
Gary Gardner, 56, is accused of using money he claimed to be raising for the soldier’s son Jack to fund his own flop music record “Miss You Machine”.
A court heard Gardner, from Medbourne, vowed to raise enough to set Jack “up for life” with celebrity-led events, including one starring 70s band Boney M.
A jury heard he raised at least £24,000 but none of it was ever given to Jack or his trust fund.
Captain Andrew Harris, who oversaw the Fusiliers Aid Society, told how Gardner approached him soon after the soldier was murdered near Woolwich Barracks in London in 2013.
He said: “After the death of Lee Rigby I received an approach from Gary Gardner.
“He came to our headquarters at the Tower of London.
“He contacted us because he felt strongly about the loss of Lee Rigby and wanted to do something as he was a father himself.
“He wanted to do something to help. He was particularly moved by young Jack who was two years old at the time.
“The first event he wanted to put on was a truck pull. Before that he made contact with Rebecca Rigby [Lee’s wife] - we facilitated that.
“It was difficult to make money out of music singles. I told this to Gary Gardner - it must have been in a telephone conversation.
“I thought he had contacts in the music industry - I didn’t ask him what he did for a living.
“It was only when we called him and he was driving a truck that we realised he was a truck driver.
“We went to the launch event on February 8, 2014, and saw there was a stage set up and a tour bus for performers. We knew one of the performing bands by name - Boney M.
“It was on a grand scale. I did not think it was necessary but I believe he was trying to launch the record.
“The only money I was aware of was the money going into the containers held by retired soldiers.”
Captain Harris also told the court how Gardner was keen to use the Rigby family to “give some credence” to his events.
He said: “I never really got a satisfactory reply when I asked Gary Gardner if we had made any money.
“I called him more than once or twice but once I wasn’t getting an answer I moved on to other things.
“I would have asked how much money we had raised and I did not get a straight answer.
“I was looking forward to receiving a payment from him. I can’t say he was totally elusive.
“He never told me how much he had raised that day. I never saw the cash raised that day.
“I’m not aware that we ever received money as a result of the single.
“He was always after the Rigby family to come to his events - Becky and Jack - because they would give some credence and help the fundraising effort.
“I thought he was well-meaning and genuine in his intention to support Lee Rigby’s son.”
Gardner denies three counts of fraud.
The trial at Leicester Crown Court continues.