School secretary Margaret Bailey stole £89,000 from Endon Hall Primary
THIEVING secretary Margaret Bailey has been jailed after stealing up to £89,000 from the primary school where she worked to fund her bid to be a property tycoon.
The trusted 51-year-old swindled the cash over six years after rising from dinner lady to running the school's accounts.
The money was set aside to fund school trips, school meals, charity events and even a Christmas party at Endon Hall Primary School, in Endon.
But Bailey was arrested and forced to resign after an investigation found she had used the cash to put deposits on a house in the U.S., a holiday home in Bulgaria, and several properties in the UK.
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She gave some of the money to members of her family.
Now Bailey, of Hilltop Cottage, Brown Edge, has been jailed for two-and-a-half years after admitting four charges of theft, two of fraud and one of false accounting. Headteacher Vicki Lewis today condemned Bailey.
She said: "The school has been absolutely shattered by this betrayal of trust. Margaret not only abused her position of trust, but also ruthlessly deprived pupils of the money raised by hard-working parents."
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard Bailey's scam began in 2005 shortly after she was promoted to office support manager.
The position gave Bailey access to various school accounts, including money belonging to Endon Hall's Parent Teacher Association, and Staffordshire County Council.
Bailey repeatedly wrote out cheques to herself and members of her family, before swapping money around the accounts in an attempt to cover her tracks.
But she was caught and arrested last December after irregularities were spotted.
The court heard Bailey stole between £63,000 and £89,000 – although audits have been unable to determine the exact figure.
Fiona Cortese, prosecuting, said: "She said that everything was true and she was glad that it was all out in the open as it had been making her ill.
"She said she had bills to pay at home and it had just snowballed."
Bailey's defence barrister Jason Holt said she had 'lost everything'.
He added: "Her children don't want to know her. She's lost her husband. They are separated and planning to divorce. She is left at 51 with no-one and has only herself to blame."
Jailing Bailey, Judge Granville Styler told her: "The consequences of your dishonesty have been devastating for you.
"You've lost your job and family, and suffered humiliation in the community.
"But that humiliation is richly deserved."