Primary school bursar stole £490k to fund lavish holidays

A school bursar who used her position to steal hundreds of thousands of pounds is facing jail after being found guilty of fraud. Debra Poole, stole over £490,000 over a seven-year period as business manager at Hinchley Wood Primary School in Esher, Surrey. The 63-year-old ran after-school and breakfast clubs and increased her pay to more than £80,000 – more than most primary school headteachers are paid.

Kingston Crown Court heard that the school was left without basic supplies with parents saying their children’s education had suffered.

Meanwhile, Poole and her husband, Gary, 27 enjoyed a lavish lifestyle of expensive holidays in places such as Greece, the Cotswolds, New York and Amsterdam.

The Mail reports that on one occasion the couple splashed out on a five-star getaway to Greece costing £13,000.

The couple also transferred almost £70,000 to their two daughters, enabling one to buy a house after £37,000 was paid into her partner’s bank account.

Poole was found guilty of four counts of fraud following the four-week trial.

Gary, who was a co-defendant, was cleared of a money laundering offence of acquiring criminal property.

A mother at the school told MailOnline they will “never know how much of that money she pocketed”.

She said: “I’m gutted that she stole from our children and from us.”

The mother of three added: “In a primary school the teachers are meant to provide pens, pencils, glue sticks etc. It got to the stage where children were coming home crying because they hadn’t stuck things in their books because they had no glue.

“Mrs Poole would say ‘Oh here comes the Pritt Stick Brigade’ when we tried to speak to her about it.”

Detective Constable Lloyd Ives, who investigated the case said Poole committed a “gross breach of trust” to fund her “extravagant lifestyle”.

Ms Ives continued: “No doubt Debra would have continued had the school not worked out what was going on and reported the matter to police. This resulted in a lengthy and complex investigation which included examining bank accounts and hundreds of documents to prove that she had defrauded the school.

“I hope that this conviction shows the seriousness with which such a massive abuse of trust and position is taken and I hope that it is a deterrent to anyone else thinking of committing similar offences that it is simply not worth the risk – you will get found out.”

Poole will be sentenced at the same court on March 31.

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