A BARMAID stole more than £850 raised for Children in Need by regulars at a Blackburn pub.

Kelley Trevelyan pleaded guilty to taking the money collected after she organised a sponsored fancy dress walk and a bucket whip round in the Havelock Inn.

Speaking yesterday after the court case, the 24-year-old of Langdale Road, Blackburn, said she was ‘utterly ashamed’ she had taken the money but had been driven to the desperate act after falling into debt with a catalogue company.

The mother-of-two contacted the charity for sponsorship forms and recruited 11 others to join her on the 30-mile walk from the Mill Hill pub to Blackburn last November.

However the money never made it to the BBC charity.

Trevelyan’s former boss and landlord at the Havelock, Darren Heggie, 33, said he foiled the deception with his partner and landlady Danielle Slinger, 24.

Speaking after the case he said: “As time elapsed after the walk I asked Kelley if she had received a certificate for her fundraising so we could put it up at the pub.

“I had never dealt with Children in Need before so when she said it hadn’t arrived yet I had no reason to doubt her.

“Over the next few weeks lots of the customers who had sponsored the walk started asking me if it had been paid. So I asked Kelley to bring in a statement or paying in slip proving it had been paid in the bank.

“By this point my alarm bells were ringing, so I contacted the charity to see if they had received the money.

“When they told me they hadn’t received it and had had no contact with Kelley since they sent out the sponsorship forms I was lost for words.

“I put the allegation to Kelley and she denied it but I immediately suspended her on the grounds of gross misconduct. Later that day she texted me admitting it all.”

After she admitted stealing the cash, Trevelyan said she contacted each of the participants of the walk and told them what had happened.

She then handed herself into the police.

Burnley Magistrates sentenced her to a 27 day 7pm to 7am curfew at her home, monitored by electronic tag, and ordered her to pay £856 compensation to the charity.

Mr Heggie after the case said: “In my view the sentence is not hard enough. She has gotten off very lightly.”

Speaking from her home Trevelyan admitted trying to deceive her former boss about the theft.

She said: “I am so sorry. People think I haven’t been punished enough but the shame I feel is devastating.

“At the time when I was collecting the sponsorship money, I was being hassled by baliffs because of a £940 debt I had run up with a household catalogue.

“I didn’t know where to turn and I had this money sat in an envelope.

“I made the stupid decision to pay off the debt with that money. But I honestly intended to save up and repay the money while I was waiting for all the sponsorship money to come through.

“I was trying to save money from my wages, but my partner, who did not know what I had done, was asking me for cash for our wedding and I ended up giving it him so he wouldn’t get suspicious.

“This whole thing has really got me down.

“People are saying I spent that money on my wedding but I didn’t. When I organised that walk I had every intention of sending the money to the charity.”

A BBC Children In Need spokesman said: “We rely on the trust and generosity of the public in all of our fundraising.

“We are pleased that the money given by the public will now reach the disadvantaged children and young people supported by the projects we fund."