A PRE-SCHOOL treasurer who stole almost £90,000 from her employers has been jailed for two and a half years.
Jayne Hawthorne, 51, of Sheldon Avenue, Vicars Cross siphoned off £89,129.74 of school funds from Oldfield pre-school, Green Lane, Vicars Cross between January 31, 2001 and February 2, 2009.
She appeared at Chester Crown Court on Friday (December 10) where Judge Nicholas Woodward told her: “You used the school funds like your own personal piggy bank.”
Prosecuting, Jonathan Austin told the court that Hawthorne had gone to extraordinary lengths to cover her tracks until she confessed in February 2009.
He said: “She took money out of the account, wrote and countersigned cheques and altered letters.
“For example, she altered a letter from the Halifax in 2006 to suggest the balance was £15,000 when it was actually £3.50.”
Defending, Peter Barnett said: “In 2005, funding started to come in from the then Cheshire County Council.
“She had financial difficulties and borrowed some money with the intention of paying it back, but she couldn’t.
“She didn’t live an exotic lifestyle, she was trying to hang on to the life she had and it got out of hand.”
Staff and committee members from the school attended the hearing wearing ‘Oldfield Pre-school’ sweatshirts were left devastated when told they would not retrieve any funds back.
Prosecutor Jonathan Austin said that the CPS would not be undertaking a proceeds of crime investigation - and that Hawthorne did not have the necessary assets to make a compensation order.
“We are absolutely gutted,” said current treasurer Chris Barrowcliff.
“While we welcome the custodial sentence, we are devastated that there will be no repayment of the funds stolen.”