Tuesday, 9 December 2014

PTA Chief Nicked £20K From Primary School Fund

A psychiatric nurse, who stole nearly £20,000 from her boys' primary school's PTA during a disastrous stint as co-chairperson, received a suspended prison sentence yesterday.

Mother-of-two Louise Daly, 42, whose partner works for the NHS, was told by a judge: "Most people would think you can get by on the three thousand one hundred pounds a month you had coming into the household without stealing twenty thousand from a children's primary school."

The first-time offender and graduate, of Greenford Avenue, Ealing pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by abuse of position, with intent to make a gain, namely £19,202 at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Primary School, Hanwell between September 26, 2012 and January 3, this year.

Prosecutor Mr. Philip Levy told Isleworth Crown Court: "It was intended to be a two-year term at the school her two children attend and she was given a PTA debit card in the name of the previous co-chairperson.

"The fraud came to light because she was struggling with the job and a new committee took over six months early and went through all the bank statements.

"A lot of money had been taken out of the PTA account and revenue raised at various functions had been taken and not banked. None of that money has been recovered.

"There was no way this was not going to come to light and when interviewed Miss Daly was very upset and agreed to repay the money by instalments, but so far nothing has been received."

Remarkably, on the school's website is a message from the current PTA committee, which states: "We would like to thank the previous PTA team and Louise Daly for all their hard work and all their personal efforts and time they put into helping raise valuable funds towards school events and fundraising." 

Daly's lawyer Mr. Hugh O'Donohue told the court his client, whose sons are aged three and ten years-old, is an a: "black psychological hole."

She currently receives £2,300 p.m. sick pay, plus £800 p.m. from her partner and Mr. O'Donohue explained: "She was under pressure to pay day-to-day expenses and pay the rent.

"There are difficulties with her partner, who drinks two bottles of wine a night, and she dipped into the funds.

"She has not repeated her troubles to anybody, but it is obvious she needs counselling. She says there was a strain and she had not enough money from time to time so dipped into it."

Daly took to the witness box to explain her expenditure to Judge Moore, telling him school dinners were £20 per week; the after school club was £50 per month; football training was £25 and she was paying the taxman £100 per month for a child tax credits overpayment.

"My partner would make me buy the alcohol," she added. "I thought I had taken about ten thousand."

Judge Douglas Moore sentenced tearful Daly to twelve months imprisonment, suspended for two years, placed her on a two-year's probation and ordered her to pay £500 compensation within seven days and then £100 p.m. to the PTA.

"She's a graduate, she's intelligent, she's mature and this was a betrayal of the children," added Judge Moore telling Daly: "For whatever reason they allowed you to be in charge of that money.

"It's a despicable offence, clearly an abuse of trust. These are children and you know these are difficult times.

"You are a grown woman and knew what you were doing and the only person who has brought misery upon you is yourself.

"You are not the only person finding things difficult at the moment.

"You just can't turn around and blame everybody else, this was a blatant dishonesty and under normal circumstances you would go into custody, but there are young children here that would suffer.

"You have brought shame on your children and yourself.

"Nobody is quite sure where this money has gone and you have let people down.

"If the school wishes to take you to court to recover the debt they can. This will take twenty years to repay and that's not going to work. That's nonsensical."

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