A former Britain’s Got Talent Star stole thousands of pounds from Bolton Council in a bid to plug the finances of the charity he co-founded.

James Edgington, 39, has been a well-known figure in the town thanks to his role in co-founding Bolton Pride and as an actor in period drama Downton Abbey.

But Bolton Crown Court heard how he resorted to defrauding around £16,400 from Bolton Council by abusing his position as a theatre and events programmer at Albert Halls after running into trouble with Pride's finances.

Nicholas Ross, defending, said: “It was his own pride that stopped him from seeking help.

“It is a cliché is it not, that pride comes before a fall, well this was his pride and today is his fall.”

The Bolton News: James Edgington leaving court after pleading guilty in AugustJames Edgington leaving court after pleading guilty in August (Image: Newsquest)

Edgington, of Thicketford Road, came to public attention in 2010 when he appeared alongside his father on Britain’s Got Talent to perform “This is the Moment” from hit musical Jekyll and Hyde.

Since then he went on to co-found Bolton Pride in 2015 which attracted the support of one of the town’s most famous sons, Sir Ian McKellen.

The Bolton News: James Edgington in Britain's Got Talent with father GrahamJames Edgington in Britain's Got Talent with father Graham (Image: PR)

But prosecutor Duncan Wilcock told the court how four years later Edgington began a series of crimes that would prove to be his undoing between February 2019 and April 2021.

In an attempt to keep Pride’s finances afloat after a sponsor pulled out, Edgington gave producers who had used Albert Halls his own bank details so around £16,539 of money owed to Bolton Council was paid into his own account.

He also sold 71 tickets to a Sir Ian McKellen show that were supposed to be free at £35 each, with the money again going into his own bank account to 42 customers, coming to £2,485.

The Bolton News: James Edgington in Downton Abbey with actress Joanne FroggattJames Edgington in Downton Abbey with actress Joanne Froggatt (Image: PR)

But his fraudulent efforts unravelled after Edgington then stole £737 in cash from the safe at Albert Halls and was discovered by his colleagues on March 5 last year.

A subsequent investigation accessed his work emails and uncovered the larger-scale frauds he had been committing.

Edgington admitted his crimes in August this year, pleading guilty to theft and two counts of fraud with one count of attempted fraud.

Mr Ross, defending, said that Edgington fully admitted he had acted dishonestly and had defrauded the council but deserved credit for cooperating with the investigation and admitting to his crimes

He said: “Unhesitatingly he did that and has acted with the highest level of cooperation.

“He has made every effort to rectify matters at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Mr Ross pointed out that Edgington has no previous convictions and is of previous "impeccable" character, with "glowing" character references showing that he has been regarded until now in "the highest esteem" by charities, businesses and other organisations around the borough.

He had also repaid £600 of the £737 he stole as soon as he was able.

But Recorder Nicholas Williams ruled that Edgington’s crimes had not been a "one-off" or "a moment of madness" but had been sustained over a period of time.

ALSO READ: Bolton Pride founder pleads guilty to £20k council fraud

He gave Edgington a sentence of ten months suspended for a year and ordered that he complete 200 hours of unpaid work with 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

Recorder Williams also ordered that Edgington pay £16,539 in compensation to the local authority.

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said: “The council has a zero-tolerance policy towards fraud or any action which diverts valuable resources away from local taxpayers.

“Appropriate action was taken as soon as the council became aware of this issue.

“We have fully supported Greater Manchester Police in their investigation and we would like to thank them for their work on this case.”