Britain

Corrupt head teacher pocketed thousands from school budget to fund luxurious lifestyle

Head teacher Michelle Hollingsworth is facing a lengthy jail term after being convicted of fraud

Head teacher Michelle Hollingsworth and secretary Deborah Jones are facing lengthy jail terms after being convicted of fraud

A primary school head teacher is facing a lengthy jail term for funnelling hundreds of thousands of pounds meant for school dinners, trips and equipment into her own bank account.

Michelle Hollingsworth systematically siphoned cash from Annie Lennard Primary in Smethwick, West Midlands, by using the schools cheques for designer clothes, oil paintings and antique furniture.

Hollingsworth conspired with her secretary Deborah Jones to falsify receipts and invoices that suggested the money was being spent on repairs and school supplies.

Over a five year period they plundered the schools cash, blowing £6,000 on one trip and a total of £16,000 on several visits to a luxury furniture shop called Chic Interiors in Cheshire.
Cheshire.

The boutique stores title was changed to Chic Supplies on school records in a bid to cover up the type of item bought – one of many tricks they used to get away with their actions.

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A court heard how Hollingsworth, 55, concocted stories to explain why a school cheque was used to purchase certain goods while her accomplice, Jones, would input false information about purchases onto the schools financial system at the head teachers instructions.

FROM JOHN JEFFAY AT CASCADE NEWS LTD 0161 660 8087 / 07771 957773 john@cascadenews.co.uk CASCADE NEWS FOR WOLVERHAMPTON EXRESS & STAR PIC SHOWS Michelle Hollingsworth head accused A headteacher and her secretary are accused of blowing hundreds of thousands of pounds of school cash on lavish spending sprees during a fraud, it has been A court heard that Michelle Hollingsworth and her secretary Deborah Jones bought designer goods and antiques, and expensive art while ordering staff at the cash-strapped school to buy their own supplies. Hollingsworth, 55, and 57-year-old Jones syphoned cash from Annie Lennard Primary in Smethwick for around five years by using the school?s cheques and bogus purchase orders, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told. It is alleged they were the only two staff at the school with authority to input and authorise payments and the only two people with access rights to the finance system between June 2009 and October 2015. Prosecutor Mr Mark Jackson said the pair travelled hundreds of miles to exclusive boutiques and stores selling expensive designer goods as far afield as Nantwich in Cheshire and Ashbourne in Derbyshire. Hollingsworth spent more than ?2,000 of the cash-strapped school?s money on two oil paintings, one of a beach and the other entitled Barge at Moonlight, alleged Mr Jackson who added: ?When questioned she seemed to say that she bought them for the school but kept them at her home.? ?All the time they were using the school?s cheques to purchase a wide range of goods, none of which were suitable for primary schoolchildren? Along with the pair a number of other defendants are in the dock including Hollingsworth?s husband and sister-in-law accused of being part of the fraud.

Michelle Hollingsworth spent hundreds of thousands on desginer clothes and antique furniture (Picture: Cascde News/ MNA)

When their scheming started to unravel, Hollingsworth tried to dump all the blame on the 57-year-old school secretary Jones, who she said was in charge of spending.

But a jury was told that the head pocketed thousands from petty cash and money paid into the school by parents for their childrens dinners, trips and fundraising, causing the annual fund of such payments to plummet from £21,000 to less that £4,000 five years later.

£9000 worth of furniture from Hollingsworths home in Staffordshire was also paid for with money from the cash-strapped school, a jury was told.

The school finances became open to abuse when the head, who had worked at Annie Lennard Primary for 29 years, took over managing cheques that had previously been handled by Sandwell Council.

Tricks to extort money from the school included plotting with builders and traders who were paid with school cash for jobs that were either not done or vastly overpriced, in the expectation of pocketing kick-backs from the deals.

Jones admitted her husband Davids business, ESR Building Maintenance, was paid £77,000 for invented work supposedly done at the school between March 2010 and May 2015.

FROM JOHN JEFFAY AT CASCADE NEWS LTD 0161 660 8087 / 07771 957773 john@cascadenews.co.uk CASCADE NEWS FOR WOLVERHAMPTON EXRESS & STAR PIC SHOWS SECRETARY DEBORAH JONES A headteacher and her secretary are accused of blowing hundreds of thousands of pounds of school cash on lavish spending sprees during a fraud, it has been A court heard that Michelle Hollingsworth and her secretary Deborah Jones bought designer goods and antiques, and expensive art while ordering staff at the cash-strapped school to buy their own supplies. Hollingsworth, 55, and 57-year-old Jones syphoned cash from Annie Lennard Primary in Smethwick for around five years by using the school?s cheques and bogus purchase orders, Wolverham<a href=https://metro.co.uk/2019/09/06/corrupt-head-teacher-pocketed-thousands-school-budget-fund-luxurious-lifestyle-10698052/>Read More – Source</a></p> </body></html>

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