A bursar abused her position in charge of a primary school’s bank accounts and stole more than £20,000, a court heard.
Alison Nichol carried out the deception over a three-year period at Waterloo Primary School, in Pudsey, Leeds, and then made “sustained and repeated” attempts to cover her tracks when the offending came to light.
Nichol, 52, was given an 18 month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and was ordered to do 250 hours unpaid work after she pleaded guilty to theft.
Leeds Crown Court heard Nichol, of Marsh Terrace, Pudsey, is a former pupil of the school and worked as a secretary before being appointed bursar. The grandmother first came under suspicion in 2010 when she took two weeks off work when her daughter gave birth.
The school’s business manager, who was temporarily doing Nichol’s duties, approached a parent for £92 which she thought was owed.
The parent said the money had been paid. When Nichol came under further suspicion she came into school early one morning and was seen removing paperwork from a drawer.
The school ordered an audit to be undertaken. Nichol then admitted paying some school funds, including £1,500 from a school fair, into her husband’s bank account.
Police were contacted and financial investigators estimated Nichol had stolen £20,707.
Graham Parkin, mitigating, said his client committed the offences at a time when her husband’s roofing business was suffering and they were in debt.
He said Leeds City Council were pursuing her for the money through the civil court and she stood to lose her home and another property she owned with her husband.
Recorder Darren Preston said: “This was a sustained course of theft. You were entrusted with a high degree of responsibility.
“You were there to serve that school, serve that community, those children and their parents and you grossly abused that trust.
“Not only was it a sustained and repeated theft, it was a sustained and repeated attempt to hide it when it came to light.”
He added: “I accept that this offence was not committed out of greed, but neither was it committed out of necessity. You had financial difficulties but you weren’t without income.”