Fundraiser stole money from Loanhead boy’s fund

Four-year-old Lyle Cornet lives with incurable brain tumours.
Four-year-old Lyle Cornet lives with incurable brain tumours.

A caring mum has told how a crooked fundraiser deprived her family after stealing cash intended to help her little boy in his battle with incurable brain tumours.

Former BBC correspondent Sina Graham (63), stole £1,000 of fundraising money intended for brave little Lyle Cornet after helping organise a charity event for the Loanhead youngster.

Four-year-old Lyle’s mum Lyndsey told of the strain on the family after Graham pled guilty to stealing the cash between January and May 2017, at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last week.

“I’m glad she’s admitted her guilt but there’s a lot of money unaccounted for,” said Lyndsey, 27.

“I was the main witness and this was the sixth time at court.

“Every time I went to court Lyle had to be looked after by palliative carers.”

Lyndsey said the case had also taken a toll on family life for husband Tjay (28), Lyle and his brothers Chris, six, and nine-month-old Leo.

“It’s been a hard three-and-a-half years,” she said.

“We don’t know how long we’ve got with him. The tumours are stable but they can’t operate.”

The money raised should have helped pay bills in case Tjay has to give up his job as a joiner, after Lyndsey stopped working as a nurse to become Lyle’s full-time carer.

“We should’ve been making memories as a family instead of going in and out of court,” she added.

The family set-up the Lyle Cornet Foundation backed by sports stars including ex-heavyweight world champion boxer Tyson Fury.

The foundation brought in £75,000 to enable Lyle’s family to adapt their house to meet his needs.

One fundraising event was a dinner held in memory of Lyle’s grandad, the former Scotland and British Lions rugby player Bruce Hay, who died from a brain tumour, aged 57, in 2007.

The bash held at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange added tens of thousands of pounds to the tally, but some funds went missing.

Graham, then events manager for Boroughmuir Rugby Club where Hay once played and earned his nickname – the Lion of Meggetland – had taken the cash.

She was accused of stealing £10,145 of the charity funds, but pled guilty to an amended charge shortly before her trial was set to begin.

Graham reportedly discussed interviewing Nelson Mandela and travelling on Air Force One during Bill Clinton’s US presidency while working as a BBC World Service correspondent.

She also claimed to own the world’s oldest cat – a ginger tom called Charlie which she took on assignments including the Gulf War – before the pet’s death, aged 29, in 2011.

Solicitor Archie Hill, defending, said there was “some dispute” over amounts raised and his client gave the remaining £1,000 to another charity.

He added: “It’s a stain on her character and she’s upset. She made no money here and has been of good character all of these years.

“It’s a hard pill to swallow but she’s swallowed it.”