A primary school worker who stole £31,000 of school funds to finance her addiction to bingo was today starting an 18-month prison sentence.
Claire Mosby was branded “reprehensible” by a judge for placing her colleagues under suspicion by planting a spare key in the safe at Swarcliffe Primary as the net began to close on her two-year deception.
Mosby, 38, – a former pupil and parent governor at the east Leeds school – worked as office manager when she stole cash from the safe between 2009 and 2011.
The cash was funds collected for school dinners, takings from the school’s nursery, breakfast club, after school club and a voluntary fund, made up of contributions to pay for extras such as school trips.
Instead of banking the takings, the married mother-of-three used it to fund her online gambling and bingo habit.
Judge Christopher Batty said: “Swarcliffe Primary School is the heart of the community in which you and your family still live.
“The money that you stole represents the monies collected by the school from parents in the school. Money you know only too well they could ill-afford to give in the first place.”
He added: “I’m afraid it comes down to this - you did not care. Your need was too great.”
On the weekend before the deception was about to be discovered Mosby went into the school and put a spare key in safe in a bid to cover her tracks. The following day she went to the police to report cash being stolen.
The judge said those actions amounted to Mosby “laying down your defence”. He added: “No one needs to tell you how reprehensible your behaviour is.” A jury took two hours to unanimously find Mosby guilty of theft after a trial at Leeds Crown Court in November last year.
During the trial Mosby, of Swarcliffe Avenue, denied the offence. She claimed she had known cash was going missing but did not report it as she would be putting head teacher Susan Sanderson under pressure.
The jury heard suspicions were first raised by a council-employed school finance overover low income levels in the school’s dinner money account.
In March 2011 the school’s safe was searched and envelopes, which had Mosby’s hand writing on, were found to have money missing. Mosby now faces further court hearings under the Proceeds of Crime Act.