A FORMER charity boss who was unmasked as a paedophile has now dramatically confessed to stealing thousands of pounds from the organisation that employed him.

Four years after a major fraud probe was launched into the financial activities of Christopher Hedges, the Daily Echo can today reveal how he has admitted stealing funds in bogus expense claims while serving as chief executive for the charity Open Sight.

Hedges had previously denied the charges relating to a total theft of £8,470 in fraudulent expenses while serving as chief executive for the charity which supports blind and visually impaired people.

But on the first day of his trial Hedges changed his plea and admitted to charges of stealing nearly £3,000 of charity cash supposed to be set aside to help some of the region’s most vulnerable partially sighted residents.

A judge has now told him to expect a jail sentence.

The shock confession marks the climax of a long-running saga and major investigation centring on the former boss’s financial conduct while working at the organisation based in Bishopstoke.

And it comes after the Daily Echo exposed him as a convicted paedophile having been jailed for having sex with a 14 year old girl – a conviction that he failed to disclose to his employees when they first appointed him.

Hedges, 63, of Pembroke Close, Boyatt Wood, was due to defend the latest allegations of fraud before a jury at Southampton Crown Court.

But after consulting his legal team Hedges pleaded guilty to four allegations of fraud by abuse of position in submitting claims for expenses totalling £2,919.

Daily Echo:

Prosecutor Nicholas Tucker indicated that a count relating to fraudulent claims in lieu of accumulated annual leave amounting to £5,612.54 are likely to be ordered to lie on file.

A sixth charge alleging that Hedges retained a wrongful credit will also lie on file.

The allegations cover the period between March 1, 2007, when he joined the charity then called Hampshire Care for the Blind and December 31, 2010 when he was sacked over allegations of bullying.

Just weeks later an investigation was launched by Hampshire police into allegations of financial irregularities which resulted in Hedges’ arrest in December 2011. He was initially due to stand trial at the same court in December 2012 but the case was adjourned.

Judge Nicholas Rowland bailed Hedges until next month when he will be sentenced.

Daily Echo:

Open Sight relies on public donations serves 5,000 blind and partially sighted children and adults and has branches across Hampshire.

The organisation declined to comment until after sentencing.