A WESTBURY woman has been given a suspended prison sentence for stealing nearly £10,000 from a pre-school.
Claire Kirkham, 36, defrauded Kingfisher Pre-School of £9,566 when she was chairman, between 2006 and 2008. The mother-of-five spent the money on treats for herself, leaving the pre-school in a precarious financial position.
Kirkham, of Bremeridge Road, Westbury, had pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud in a position of trust and one count of theft.
On Friday 19th March at Swindon Crown Court Kirkham received a suspended nine-month jail sentence for the fraud charges and a four month sentence for theft, to run concurrently. She was also ordered to serve 150 hours of community service.
Kirkham’s fraud was discovered when pay cheques for staff bounced in July 2008. In a statement, a Kingfisher Pre-School spokesperson said, “Kingfisher Pre-School is glad that the whole investigation and court proceedings are at an end.
“The pre-school now wishes to ensure that we continue to build on our excellent reputation for the local community and continue to provide dedicated care and maximise all positive outcomes for all the children at the pre-school.”
The spokesperson added that the pre-school had faced a challenge to keep going as a result of the theft.
She said, “When it all came to light, we were all in complete and utter disbelief, that someone we trusted had done this. Once we were over the initial shock, all staff and committee members rallied round, we worked together and made all the decisions together on where to go from there.
“The staff offered to take a pay cut and the committee donated the supplies we needed to open for the September term, taking over the cleaning of the pre-school unpaid, as we could not afford a cleaner. It was with hard work and with endless fund raising events that we are back to being a financially strong pre-school.”