A van driver for the Bradford-based Little Heroes Cancer Trust was appointed a trustee of the charity without his knowledge and against his wishes, the jury in a fraud trial heard yesterday.

Patrick Hawkes told Bradford Crown Court that he found out on the internet that he was listed as a trustee. He wrote to The Charity Commission asking it to remove his name but did not receive a response.

“You can’t work for a charity and be a trustee,” Mr Hawkes told the court.

Colin Nesbitt, the founder and director of Little Heroes, is on trial denying a £370,000 fraud and theft from the charity.

Nesbitt, 58 of Kent Road, Bingley, is alleged to have used the charity’s money as his own, setting up a “secret bank account,” emptying money bags and using trustees as puppets.

He pleads not guilty to five charges of fraud, three counts of supplying false and misleading information to The Charity Commission and one charge of stealing £7,000 from the Little Heroes Cancer Trust.

The jury has heard that Nesbitt founded the charity in 2008 after his grandson was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

Its aim was to raise money to assist young children with cancer and their families with information, support and events such as firewalks and hospital “toy drops.”

Mr Hawkes said Nesbitt gave him the job as a van driver in 2010, paying him £125 a time for transporting equipment to fundraising pub firewalks across the country in the Little Heroes blue Transit van.

During his five years with Little Heroes, he set up and helped at seven or eight firewalks a month and was paid in cash by Nesbitt.

He said Nesbitt told the event organisers to write out cheques for the money raised to Little Heroes or its associated company, Unite and Ignite.

Mr Hawkes said he took the cash raised in a strongbox or envelope to the home of Nesbitt’s partner, Christine Smith, in Cottingley.

Cross-examined by defence barrister Matthew Donkin, Mr Hawkes said Nesbitt had large amounts of money in his wallet and was always generous, handing cash out to sick children and their families at charity events.

Mr Hawkes said he knew Nesbitt’s grandson had a lot of medical difficulties.

He could not recall when Nesbitt asked him to become a trustee, but he remembered that it was in the Little Heroes office in Shipley. He was subsequently removed from the post.

Mr Hawkes said he never had a contract of employment and did not invoice the charity for payment, it was cash in hand from Nesbitt.

The jury has heard that the firewalk events and the “toy drops,” at children’s hospital wards, were nationwide, with £1,000 a time spent on toys and Argos vouchers for older children.

As well as local hospitals, Little Heroes gave toys to poorly youngsters in Newcastle and Cambridge.

The trial continues.