Leeds school worker guilty of £31,000 theft

Claire Mosby.
Claire Mosby.
Have your say

A Leeds primary school worker is facing a lengthy prison sentence after being found guilty of stealing £31,000 of school funds and dinner money.

Claire Mosby, 38, was yesterday (Nov 26) found guilty of theft from Swarcliffe Primary School in Leeds. A jury took around two hours to reach a unanimous verdict at Leeds Crown court.

The prosecution said Mosby, a former governor who worked as the school’s office manager, took the cash from a safe over a two-year period to pay debts and fund her online gambling and bingo habit.

Judge Christopher Batty adjourned the case until after the Christmas period as an “act of leniency” but warned the mother-of-three she faces a “significant” prison sentence when she returns to the court on January 11.

Mosby took cash which had been collected from parents to pay for school dinners, after-school clubs and pupils’ trips.

The offences took place over between March 2009 and March 2011 at a time when her role involved managing the school’s finances.

The missing money 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.

The jury heard suspicions were first raised by a council-employed school finance over, Kate Davison, over low income levels in the school’s dinner money account.

Miss Davison then tried to arrange a meeting with Mosby over the next few months but formed the view that Mosby was being “obstructive.”

When she finally managed to analyse the accounts she discovered a £17,000 shortfall, which Mosby was unable to provide an explanation for.

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 was suspended from duty the next day and police informed.

Her bank account details showed expenditure linked to online gambling and bingo websites, payments to loan companies and cash withdrawals from a machine close to Mecca Bingo in Leeds. Mosby later admitted that she had loans from doorstep lenders.

During the trial Mosby claimed she was afraid to report cash going missing from a safe as she would be putting the headteacher Susan Sanderson under suspicion.

Giving evidence, Mosby told the jury: “I thought people would think it was me. I thought if I reported it I was accusing Susan Sanderson of taking it.”

The court heard Mosby spent around £2,000 on gaming websites during the period the alleged theft took place.

Mosby said she sometimes went to Mecca bingo with her husband or would enjoy playing at home online.

Her barrister, James Lake, asked Mosby if she was addicted to gambling. She replied: “No. It was just something I enjoyed doing.

“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. It was something I enjoyed doing.”

Ominous sky in Leeds
Leeds Bridge
River Aire

Photograph taken by Gary Hope
25 Thornfield Way
Cross Gates
Leeds LS15 7UZ
Telephone 0113 2608556

Commuters warned of closures