Harborough man found guilty of fraud after pocketing funds raised for Lee Rigby's son

Gary Gardner
Gary Gardner

A lorry driver from the Harborough district is facing jail after being found guilty of pocketing charity funds raised for the son of murdered Lee Rigby.

Gary Gardner, 56, conned well-wishers out of thousands of pounds before keeping the cash which had been meant for the family of the tragic fusilier.

A court heard how the conman transferred the funds into his account before blowing the money on recording a "flop" music single with his band.

He raised at least £24,000 from two truck-pull events in Market Harborough but not a single penny was donated to Fusilier Rigby's eight-year-old Jack.

Gardner instead kept the money and spent some of it recording a single called "Miss You Machine" with his band 'Together In Harmony'.

Lowlife Gardner also used the funds to prop up his bank account and clearing his overdraft.

Drummer Rigby's widow Rebecca, 35, was called on as a witness after she was also duped by his lies.

Their son Jack was just two when Lee was murdered in May 2013 by Islamic extremists in London.

Gardner, of Medbourne, was convicted of two counts of fraud by a jury of six men and six women at Leicester Crown Court on Thursday September 13 following an eight-day trial.

He will be sentenced at today (Friday).

The trial was told villagers became suspicious of Gardner's actions following the truck-pull event in 2013.

He advertised the event with a poster which claimed "Every penny raised goes to both local community and private Lee Rigby's son (Jack) trust fund."

Gardner had vowed to raise enough to set Jack “up for life” with celebrity-led events, including one starring 70s band Boney M.

But widow Rebecca told how she had not received any money from the events.

Giving evidence, she told the court: "I thought the money was for Jack and a portion was for local charities.

"I have not received any money from the truck-pull event.

"He never told me how he would get the money to produce the single. I wouldn't have allowed it if I knew the money was coming from the truck-pull event.

"I have not received any money from the charity single. I contacted him about the money not long after the single was launched.

"I contacted him by phone, message and email. I tried a fair few times to contact him."

Gardner spent over £3,000 hosting a lavish event in Trafalgar Square to promote the launch of the charity single.

He even recruited retired Royal Fusiliers with some of them being former comrades of Private Rigby.

Gardner said he had been trying to break a Guinness World Record for most downloads in an hour - but ended up making just £200 from the single.

He told the court how he blamed the failure on the British weather as well as the "bureaucracy" of Boris Johnson and the then Prime Minister David Cameron.

The court was told only £4,000 made its way to any charity organisation and not a penny had gone to Private Rigby's family.

Prosecutor Samuel Skinner told the court: "In this case the defendant used the names of Private Lee Rigby and his son Jack Rigby to raise thousands of pounds from charitable donations.

"It appears that the defendant has spent all the money he received. He has not given Jack Rigby, or his trust fund, any money."