Pre-school treasurer jailed over £30k theft from nursery in Lincolnshire
THE treasurer of a Coningsby pre-school play group has been jailed for 18 months after admitting stealing almost £30,000 from the organisation.
Tracy Clark took so much money that the future of the Jacdor group was put at risk.
Phil Howes, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that Clark took money over a period of more than two years both in cash and by electronically transferring money into her own account.
She then lied to fellow committee members and staff to explain why wages were not paid on time.
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He said: "She was a voluntary treasurer at this nursery. This crime put a valuable community resource in dire jeopardy. She substantially abused the trust of the community and the parents."
Mr Howes said that the issue of the group's finances was first raised in 2010 but Clark was able to satisfy the concerns.
Concern was again expressed in June last year when staff were paid late.
Clark claimed she had been locked out of the internet banking account and had not been able to process the payments in time.
But the organisation was subsequently de-registered by the Charities Commission due to Clark's failure to submit accounts within the deadline.
Marilyn Hawkins, the new chairman of Jacdor, launched an investigation which revealed money was missing and Clark was challenged about the matter.
Mr Howes said: "The defendant went quiet. She then said she would try to repay the money."
He told the court that Jacdor has managed to continue in existence as a result of the efforts of others involved in the group.
Clark, 43, of Ingham Road, Coningsby, admitted three charges of theft totalling £29,067 between January 2009 and August 2011.
Recorder Timothy Raggatt QC told her: "This was a substantial course of offending and it was systematic. You repeatedly lied to cover your tracks."
Andrea Wilkes, defending, said Clark turned to theft after accumulating debt following the break up of her marriage.
"She took the money initially to try and cover the debts she had accrued as a result of the marriage breakdown. She felt she had no alternative."