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Manitoba man sentenced to house arrest for keeping fishing tournament funds meant for Children’s Hospital Foundation

A Manitoba man who pleaded guilty to keeping the funds raised from an ice-fishing fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba has been handed a sentence of 18 months house arrest.

Christian Lillyman and his partner were arrested and charged in December 2022 after more than $13,000 was not paid to the foundation.

According to details shared in court on Thursday, Lillyman had reached out to the foundation in January 2021, with the plan to host a fishing derby and the money raised would go to the foundation.

The Full Tilt Winter Walleye Tournament had 492 people register and more than $22,000 was collected in entry fees.

Once the tournament ended, more than $9,000 was awarded as prize money, with the remaining roughly $13,000 supposed to go to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba – but the money never came.

“The people working at the foundation have a sincere desire to help sick kids and they trust the third-party donors that come to us who say they also want to help kids in hospital. So this breach of trust caused a sense of sadness, anger, and then significant worry for our staff members,” said the president and CEO of the foundation Stefano Grande, in a victim impact statement shared with the court.

The court heard Lillyman had “good intentions” when he set out to raise the money, but fell on hard times during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was a self-employed painter and when COVID hit, his contracts dried up, the court heard.

Lillyman’s lawyer said after the tournament, Lillyman would borrow money from the $13,000 pot with hopes of paying it back once he got new contracts for work, but it never happened.

Once Lillyman entered a guilty plea, the charges against his partner were stayed, the Crown said, noting Lillyman was “solely responsible.”

Lillyman has since found a job and has already paid back $3,000 to the foundation, the court heard.

He said he regretted what he did and has grown from this experience.

As part of his sentence, Lillyman must make monthly payments to the foundation until the remaining $10,000 is paid off.

If he doesn’t follow through, Judge Dale Schille warned jail time could be possible.

“If you don’t make the payments, you will be back here to see me,” Schille told Lillyman.

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