Albi Elliott looked like the doting father when he carted his daughter around to charity events to raise money for her dream vacation as her dying wish. But this father stole a years worth of charity money from his terminally ill daughter and has been jailed.
Ashanti Elliott-Smith, 11, suffers from a rare disease that makes her look 80 and will likely not live past 15. She was given the donation from Sussex British Motorcycle Owners Club (SBMOC) in 2010 so she could go for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to swim with dolphins. But her father Albi Elliott, 44, hid the money from the rest of the family and within two months had spent it – on trips to Tesco.
Blasting his actions as ‘callous and despicably devious’, the judge at Chichester Crown Court jailed Elliott for three years. The court heard Ashanti, who has Hutchinson-Gildford Progeria, was selected by her local biking club in West Sussex to receive a year’s worth of charity money to go on her dream holiday. At every event she attended, she was accompanied by her father Elliott, who claimed her mother Phoebe Smith, his ex, was ill or busy.
When they were finally presented with the money in December 2010 he told organisers to put the cheque in his name to book the trip. But two months later, Ashanti and her mother attended an event at the club – and when organisers mentioned the money, she knew nothing about it. Clive Etherington, SBMOC social secretary, said: ‘It is disgusting. We never had any reason to suspect him.
‘We met Ashanti in 2009 and we were really moved by her situation. We heard she wanted to go to America so planned a year of events – fun runs, curry nights, quiz nights… anything. A lot of the members put a lot of their own money into it.’
‘Albi brought Ashanti to every event and told us her mum, Phoebe, was ill. How would we know he was lying? He seemed to be looking after her fine. On the final day, a 60s themed charity Christmas party, we gave her a big cheque for £3,500, and he asked us to put the name A Elliott on it.’
‘We hadn’t heard anything so in February when Ashanti’s mother came to the club we asked her about their plans. It turned out she knew nothing about it.’
Shaken by the experience, the club now refuses to sponsor any individual cases.
What a disgusting man to lose the trust of these people and to destroy the hope of his daughter.