Maureen Murray acted as admin assistant at St Peter’s and St Paul’s RC Primary School in New Brighton, Wirral and over an 18 month period stole a total of £6,209 from the school’s Little Acorns nursery.
The incident came to light after Maureen went off sick and then resigned after she discovered that accounts at the school were due to be checked. At this point, the head teacher of the main school had contacted her to offer support and express the hope that she would rethink her resignation.
After accounts for Little Acorns were checked, it came to light that Murray had stolen a total of £6,209 from the setting and had made payments into her own bank account.
On discovery of this, Murray was questioned by local police. The 43 year old confirmed that payments had been made to her account but that she was not responsible. After electing for the case to go to court, the case was listed for trial in August and it was at this point that Murray admitted to the theft.
Prosecutor Henry Riding told the court that Murray had been employed at the school since 2008 and that her admin duties included responsibility for the nursery’s bank account.
On May 21 2013, the head teacher and governors met to discuss the school’s finances and how to invest the money they had.
Riding said: “She kept the minutes of the meeting and that was the last time she was seen face-to-face.”
When accounts where checked, it was discovered 11 transactions had been made between November 2011 and May 2013.
The prosecution said the crimes were “unsophisticated” as the records clearly showed money being transferred to her account.
For the defence, Andrew Mcinnes stated that Murray had taken the cash due to personal financial problems.
He added that her husband and children had been unaware of her behaviour, and since the incident her husband has distanced himself from her.
The defence continued, stating that Murray lacks funds to repay what was taken but that the sale of her house will enable to her to pay compensation to the setting.
Judge Recorder Abigail Hudson sentenced Murray to an 18 month imprisonment, but suspended the sentence for 2 years for the sake of Murrays two children, as she was unlikely to re-offend.
The judge stated: “I accept you are a hard worker and a loving mother and accept you committed this offence in order to finance your family, but the fact is you and your family were living above your means on money belonging to those children.”
Murray was also ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work with the intention to repay the missing money within two years.
How could the loss of funds as extreme as this affect the running of a setting?