A man who posed as a charity collector to pocket money for himself and his horses has been ordered to pay £5,000 costs.

Gareth Blyth, of Talliaris, Llandeilo, admitted three counts under regulation nine of the consumer protection and unfair trading regulations, accepting his actions may have misled members of the public.

Blyth was spotted in military costume in Guildhall Square, Carmarthen, in January 2015 and then in several other locations on different dates throughout the year.

He was accompanied by a Shetland pony, wore military medals and used a bucket to collect money. A sign on this bucket stated he was collecting for the Welsh Horse Yeomanry Society and asked people to give generously.

Suspicious were raised due to the quality of his uniform and council licencing officers discovered it was not an official army uniform, but a replica.

“Gareth Blyth misled many members of the public who believed they were donating money to charity, when instead their money was being used to line his pockets,” said Cllr Philip Hughes, executive board member for public protection.

“He was often seen attracting large crowds, particularly parents with young children, collecting large sums of money from members of the public.”

He did not produce a street collection permit despite being asked by officers several times and was warned that he was committing an offence by not having one.

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Blyth instead claimed he had been told by police that what he was doing was classed as busking and did not need a licence or permit.

He was served with advice, verbal cautions and written warnings before being invited for interview under caution by Carmarthenshire County Council.

It was at here he admitted keeping all the money he collected for himself and his horses.

He also claimed that he collects on around 40-50 days a year and declares all his takings to the Inland Revenue, but failed to show any financial records to back this up.

He was ordered to pay £5,000 costs and given a 12-month conditional discharge.

“This is a significant prosecution for Carmarthenshire County Council which demonstrates how seriously we take our duties relating to licensing and permits,” added Cllr Hughes.

“I congratulate officers for giving this matter the attention it deserved, and for building a case that has resulted in a successful prosecution.”

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