A TEACHER stole money from an after-school club to pay for knee surgery and a rapid weight-loss programme, a court was told.

Susan England, who had taught at Ysgol Bro Carmel, near Holywell, throughout her 35-year career, paid herself a salary for running the after-school club, Carmel Cares, even though it was meant to be a voluntary post.

Magistrates in Prestatyn heard that over a 25-month period between 2007 and 2009 England, of Victoria Road, Prestatyn, stole £7,876 and when auditors studied the accounts she threw away all the records.

In January, England, 57, pleaded guilty to three charges of fraud and yesterday she admitted a further four offences.

The amount involved in the charges was £1,623, but asked for 33 other offences, involving £6,253, to be considered.

Tracey Willingham, prosecuting, said a Proceeds of Crime application was to be made for recovery of the money.

England was committed to Mold Crown Court for sentence.

Ms Willingham told the court Carmel Cares was set up over three years ago and England became treasurer and manager.

“She was not entitled to be paid as the post was voluntary,” she said.

In January, 2010, the head of the school was appointed chairman of the committee and when she offered to get someone to help England she objected.

The following day she said she wanted to resign and then she went on sick leave.
Flintshire County Council’s audit team studied the club’s accounts for 2009-2010 and found 40 unaccounted transactions.

Several payments had been made into England’s own bank account and others had gone to her weight loss consultant, the surgeon who operated on her knee and to finance companies.

“In February this year, when the head asked her to produce all the paperwork she said she had destroyed everything,” said Ms Willingham.

The earlier offences then came to light, but when interviewed by the police England denied theft, claiming she had been paid a wage of £5.90 an hour.

She later explained she had used the money to settle debts and to ensure her children did not lose out in any way after her husband had died.

“She said she had buried her head in the sand and hoped the problem would go away,” said Ms Willingham.

In her statement England, who appeared in court on crutches, said she now realised that it was a form of illness because she kept on spending even when she knew her debts were mounting.

Describing it as “a serious breach of trust”, Ms Willingham added: “We will never know the full extent of the theft or spending.”

Patrick Williamson, defending, submitted character references on England’s behalf, most of them from parents of children she had taught over the years, and also a psychological report.

“The thefts began at the time that the mortgage company was suggesting repossession,” he told the court.

He said his client was considered as highly respectable and trustworthy, adding:

“This brings to an end a career of which she could rightly be extremely proud and during which she gave a lot to the community.”