A CONINGSBY woman has been branded a liar after being jailed for 18 months for stealing almost £30,000 from a pre-school’s play group.
Tracey Clark, aged 42, stole so much money it jeopardised the future of Coningsby-based Jacdor pre school which caters for up to 60 youngsters.
Clark, a former treasurer at the nursery, was jailed at Lincoln Crown Court and Recorder Timothy Raggatt told her: “This was a substantial course of offending and it was systematic.
“You repeatedly lied to cover your tracks. This was serious and persistent offending by someone in whom great trust was placed.
“The effect of your offending on the nursery and its running was very substantial.”
Phil Howes, prosecuting, told the court Clark took they 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.
Mr Howes 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 revealed the issue of the nursery’s finances was first raised in 2010 but Clark was able to satisfy concerns.
Concern was again expressed in June 2011 when staff were paid late. Clark claimed she had been locked out of the internet banking account and had not been able to process payments in time.
But the organisation was subsequently de-registered by the Charities Commission, due to Clark’s failure to submit accounts.
Marilyn Hawkins, the new chair 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 Jacdor only managed to stay in existence as a result of the efforts of committee members and staff.
Clark, of Ingham Road, Coningsby, had previously admitted three charges of theft totalling £29,067 between January 2009 and August 2011.
Andrea Wilkes, defending, said Clark turned to theft after accumulating debt following the break up of her marriage.
Miss Wilkes added: “She was in financially dire straits. She wasn’t able to confide in friends or family.
”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.”
Miss Wilkes said Clark, who at the time of the offences was working in the insurance industry, had no formal qualifications as a treasurer and performed the role on a voluntary basis.
Miss Wilkes added: “She deeply regrets this. She is a lady who has lost everything as a result and has lost her employment. She is in a fragile state of mind but that has been brought on by her own doing.”
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