School worker pocketed thousands from employer’s account

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A SCHOOL worker pocketed thousands of pounds of its cash after she was trusted with the job of banking its funds.

Sarah Colledge was sent to the Post Office with money as part of her job in the reprographics team at Belmont Comprehensive School in Durham.

But on 13 occasions across a period of more than a year, she helped herself to amounts to cover her living costs.

Peterlee Magistrates’ Court heard the first time, on March 15 last year, she was asked to deposit £420, but a slip showing only £390 had been put in the account was attached to the receipt.

Penny Bottomley, prosecuting, said other thefts of cash had happened in the following months, with the last on February 12 this year, when £441 due to be paid in failed to make it to the bank.

A total of £2,597 was taken.

Colledge, 45, of Maple Avenue, Gilesgate, Durham, admitted theft by an employee.

Miss Bottomley said: “Belmont Comprehensive School found some difficulties with their accounts and the matter was investigated.

“She admitted she had taken the money and also in interview.

“The aggravating feature of this is a breach of trust because the theft did not stop until Mrs Colledge had been confronted, it was not something Mrs Colledge stopped of her own volition.”

Mohammed Aftab, mitigating, said: “My client has no alcohol or drug problems, this was to meet the cost of living.

“She took it with the intention of paying it back, but the long it went on, the harder it became to pay it back.”

He said the mother-of-four had been planning to move onto a job as a carer, but was told to not apply because the Criminal Records Bureau check would result in her failing to get the job and added she no longer has the job at the school.

The court was told Colledge is set to inherit £35,000 after the death of her grandmother in November and would be able to pay back the money in full.

She was ordered to compensate the school for the cash, and was also sentenced to eight weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months, ordered to carry our 100 hours of unpaid work.

She must also pay £85 in court costs and a £80 victim surcharge.

After the hearing, Judith Wilkinson, the school’s headteacher, said: “The member of staff in question, a member of our reprographics team, no longer works at the school. We have co-operated fully with the investigation and are pleased the matter has now been resolved.”

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