The 54-year-old former RNLI employee from Bere Regis appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court on Monday

A former RNLI employee has pleaded guilty to defrauding the lifeboat charity out of thousands of pounds.

David Shepherd, who was RNLI head of operations, appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court on Monday to enter his plea.

The 54-year-old from Bere Regis admitted to filing a false invoice for £4,773.60 on 12 December last year and is due to be sentenced on 28 November.

Judge John Harrow warned that despite being released on bail, the defendant could still face a prison sentence.

The Bournemouth Echo reported the judge as saying: “This is a very serious breach of trust as
you know and it could carry a prison sentence.

“I am not saying it will, as nobody has yet decided. It is important that the court has all the information about you before sentencing.”

Defence lawyer Robert Pawson said that Mr Shepherd could not explain why he chose to file the false invoice but has accepted what he did.

A pre-sentence report is due to be prepared ahead of sentencing at the end of the month, with several character references expected to be submitted.

Previous to his job at the charity, Mr Shepherd served in the Royal Navy for 22 years and began working for the RNLI in 1997.

He was involved with training at charity for more than a decade before taking up the role of head of operations in September last year.

Image credit: Tanya Hart