Peterhead man admits stealing nearly £10,000 from mental health support group he co-founded

A Peterhead man has admitted stealing almost £10,000 from the support group he helped set up.

Thursday, 1st October 2020, 11:11 am
Updated Thursday, 1st October 2020, 11:13 am
Aaron Ritchie appeared at Peterhead Sheriff Court

Aaron Ritchie co-founded Men United in his home town last August, a mental health support network which aimed to break down stigma by encouraging men to speak up.

Over the course of the next eight months he would go onto steal £9792.78 from the group’s bank account to fund a gambling addiction, including £1000 raised at the funeral of a man who had received support from the group.

The situation came to light in February when the group’s other co-founder Sandy Garvock discovered there was just £3.02 in the account.

Ritchie refused to speak to Mr Garvock directly. but sent him a Facebook message stating he had transferred the money to himself via Paypal and used it for gambling.

The accused appeared at Peterhead Sheriff Court where he admitted his guilt, with Sheriff Christine McCrossan deferring sentence until October 26 in order for social work reports to be provided.

The court heard Ritchie, who was granted bail, is now working with Gamblers Anomynous to address his problem.

Men United is continuing to hold weekly meetings to help men across the north-east.

Mr Garvock posted on the group’s Facebook page: “This has been a tough few months at Men United but at least we now have some sort of closure on this situation .

“This hasn’t affected how we can help others in our community though and we will continue to offer support to those struggling.

“At no point has Men United involved Aaron’s family or made any negative comments about this unfortunate situation, it has been a matter left to police to deal with .

“Men United would have fully supported Aaron with his issues if he had spoken to us we are a group here to support men not drag them down.

“Hopefully we can now move on and do what the group was created for and to help others.”