Sunderland teacher struck off for stealing £2,400 from school trips fund

The school at Ryton where Gary Greenhouse worked. Pic: Google Maps.
The school at Ryton where Gary Greenhouse worked. Pic: Google Maps.
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A PE teacher from Sunderland who stole £2,400 in deposits for a school trip to Spain has been thrown out of the profession.

Gary Greenhouse, 35, took cash handed over by parents at Charles Thorp School, in Ryton, Gateshead, and used it to pay off loan sharks.

But his scam was rumbled when some parents asked for a refund and found that the money had gone missing.

Greenhouse, who was also assistant head of year, was able to siphoned off the funds over seven months, between December 1, 2013, and July 15 last year, as he was the point of the contact for the planned trip.

He was spared jail by Gateshead Magistrates in November last year, and given a six month sentence suspended for 12 months and 300 hours of community service.

The National College of Teaching and Leadership has now banned him indefinitely from re-entering the classroom.

The tribunal was also told Greenhouse had a previous caution from Northumbria Police on 10 April 2005 for possessing of cocaine.

"The panel has taken into account how the teaching profession is viewed by others and considered the influence that teachers may have on pupils, parents and others in the community," said Paul Heathcote, chairing the hearing.

"The panel has taken account of the uniquely influential role that teachers can hold in pupils' lives, and that pupils must be able to view teachers as role models in the way they behave."

He said the drugs caution, which was at a time when Greenhouse was a cover supervisor at the school, was harmful, as "pupils being exposed to, or influenced by, such behaviour in a harmful way as pupils may consider that his conduct, which led to the caution, is acceptable".

Imposing the ban, Mr Heathcote added: "Prohibition is both proportionate and appropriate. The panel has decided that the public interest considerations outweigh the interests of Mr Greenhouse.

"The theft of monies from the school over an extended period of time, which were provided by parents who paid for their children to go on a school trip, was a significant factor in forming that opinion."

Greenhouse, a father-of-one, confessed to headteacher Steve Williamson as soon as the theft was discovered, and pleaded guilty when brought to court.

"In June, Mr Williamson was made aware by the school finance office there was some irregularities and some families hadn't had the refunded money they'd requested after they had given cash for the trip," prosecutor Gary Fothergill told the court. "It was investigated and further anomalies were found."

Greenhouse quit on August 31 last year, and is now working as a pizza delivery man and a window cleaner to make ends meet.

The tribunal heard from ex-pupils and colleagues who described him as "an enthusiastic and professional football coach and he was an excellent motivator with excellent man management skills".

He also produced a statement from his solicitor testifying to his remorse.

"Mr Greenhouse accepted that stealing as a result of financial issues was a mistake," said Mr Heathcote. "He indicated to the panel that teaching is his passion and it has always been his drive to help children learn and develop.

"He realises he has lost a lot of trust from parents and children he has taught, but he has retained friends who are aware that this conduct was completely out of character for him.

"He stated that he cannot really explain the extent of his remorse and regret other than he will always regret what he has done for the rest of his life.

"He wanted the panel to understand how sorry he is. He considers he has a lot to offer the teaching profession."

The tribunal was told Greenhouse now handles up to £500 a night in his new jobs and there have been no problems, but he did not produce paperwork to back up his claim.

Greenhouse, of Aboyne Square, Farringdon, Sunderland, was also ordered to pay £1,200 compensation by the court, after admitting theft.

He has been banned from teaching with immediate effect and has up to 28 days to appeal the decision.