A MAN has appeared in court after a small Dorset charity was allegedly defrauded of almost £20,000.

Robert Brian Arnold, of Wilnecote in Tamworth, Staffordshire,. has been charged with three counts of committing fraud by making a false representation.

The charges relate to a total of £18,743 allegedly defrauded from Wimborne charity Adventure Aid.

Arnold, 49, appeared at Poole Magistrates’ Court on April 11. He has not yet entered pleas to any of the charges, and the case was adjourned for a hearing at Southampton Magistrates’ Court on April 30.

Prosecutors allege Arnold committed three offences on December 19 2016, March 3 2017 and May 9 2017.

Two of the charges relate to claims that the defendant said he would use a total of £10,098 to book flights to Tanzania in East Africa. The third relates to £8,645 which prosecutors say was to be used to book flights to India.

In December 2017, charity founder Ashley Platen-Mills alleged his organisation had been defrauded.

As a result of the allegations, the charity was ‘forced’ to put on hold a number of its projects supporting disadvantaged children across five countries, it was claimed.

That year, Adventure Aid funded 25 cleft lip operations in Sumatra, built a new school for a Masai tribe in Tanzania, and helped combat child sexual exploitation in Mauritius.

Mr Platen-Mills claimed he had been informed by police that the money could not be recovered

Adventure Aid was founded in 2010.

Volunteers for the charity take groups of people around the world to visit countries and projects after donations are made.

Those who give cash to the scheme also have the opportunity to find out how their funds are being used.

Mr Platen-Mills claimed further projects could be ‘put on hold’ until the end of December 2020 unless further funding was received.

The schemes which could be affected included support for a children’s cerebral palsy unit and cleft lip operations in Sumatra, supplies for children in remote regions of Nepal hit by earthquakes, and ongoing financial support for an orphanage in Southern India.

The charity’s annual ‘courage award’, which gives two fully-funded places for a child and their parent from the UK to join a trip to Sumatra, was cancelled after allegations of fraud were made to police.

Mr Platen-Mills urged anyone with an interest in the charity’s trips to come forward.

A series of visits are planned for the coming months, including trips to the Sattenapalli Orphanage in India and Helambu in Nepal.

For more information, or to get involved, visit adventureaid.org.uk