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Daily Record
Daily Record
Alan McEwen

Primary worker jailed for stealing £490k from school to fund 'extravagant lifestyle'

A primary school worker has been jailed for stealing £490,0000 from her employer to bankroll an “extravagant lifestyle” of luxury holidays and cars.

Debra Poole, 61, was imprisoned for six-and-a-half years for defrauding the school and leaving pupils to go without basic supplies.

Poole oversaw its finances along with documentation for any changes to staff pay at Hinchley Wood Primary School in Surrey.

She was also managed the finances of the school’s breakfast and after-school club.

Kingston Crown Court heard how Poole abused her position as signatory of the club’s bank account to the tune of £490,000 from October 2011 until October 2018 by transferring funds, writing out cheques to herself and then cashing the cheques.

Poole began working at Hinchley Wood as school secretary in February 2000 before being promoted to senior administration officer four years later. Her actions meant the school was left without basic supplies while parents said their kid’s education suffered, the court heard.

Poole and husband Gary enjoyed a luxury lifestyle of expensive holidays, including in New York and Amsterdam. The court heard how Poole submitted a ‘Variation in Pay Form’ to Surrey County Council In February 2009 increasing her own salary scale from level E to F.

She submitted further paperwork two years later to boost her pay scale from level SP9 to SP10. Poole claimed to be working 30 hours a week administering the breakfast club and after school clubs between June 2016 and September 2018.

She was convicted of one count of fraud by abuse of position and three counts of fraud by false representation following a trial. She was jailed on Friday.

Gary Poole, 67, was found not guilty of one charge of acquisition, use and possession under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Detective Constable Lloyd Ives, who investigated the case, said: “Debra Poole stole hundreds of thousands of pounds from Hinchley Wood Primary School while she was employed there as business manager. This gross breach of trust and her elaborate deception spanning some nine years funded an extravagant lifestyle and afforded her luxury holidays and cars which she would not otherwise have been able to afford.

“No doubt Debra would have continued had the school not worked out what was going on and reported the matter to police. This resulted in a lengthy and complex investigation which included examining bank accounts and hundreds of documents to prove that she had defrauded the school.”

“I hope that the sentence given to her today shows the seriousness with which such a massive abuse of trust and position is taken. And I hope that it is a deterrent to anyone else thinking of committing similar offences that it is simply not worth the risk – you will get found out.”

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