A BOGUS animal rights campaigner, who pocketed thousands of pounds from street collections to fund his rock band, has been jailed.

Lee Devenport, from Watling Street, Bury, was arrested in Stoke-on-Trent, on July 10 last year after setting up a stall without a council permit.

He was campaigning against the use of bearskin hats by the Queen’s guards and falsely claimed to be working with legitimate animal rights organisations.

The 41-year-old invited people to sign a petition and asked for cash, receiving a total of £21.65 before his arrest. At his home, officers found £3,195 in cash and discovered Devenport had taken around £8,700 by making up to five collections a week across the North West since October 2006. Petitions he gathered had not been sent to Parliament.

Devenport, who is unemployed and on incapacity benefit, used the money to promote his music band, and to fund his living and personal expenses.

Following a seven-day trial in September, Devenport was convicted of seven counts of fraud and two money laundering offences. He was acquitted of one fraud charge. Devenport, who denied all charges, was also convicted of making a false declaration to obtain vehicle insurance. He was jailed for 15 months on Monday at Stafford Crown Court.

Chief Inspector David Bird, who led the inquiry, said: “Devenport duped members of the public, many of them elderly, into making donations to what they thought was a bona fide cause.”