Suspended jail sentence for Exmouth mum who stole thousands of pounds from play group

PUBLISHED: 13:08 21 September 2018 | UPDATED: 09:37 24 September 2018

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Alex Walton

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Alex Walton

Archant

A playgroup treasurer who stole thousands of pounds that should have been paid in PAYE was caught when tax inspectors turned up to ask about the missing money.

Single mother Kim Wallace started borrowing money from the All Saints Pre-School playgroup in Exmouth as payday loans but found she could not repay the money.

She took more than £10,000 but spent some of the money paying bills for the playgroup, leaving with a total loss of £8,599.86, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Mother-of-four Wallace, aged 50, of Tillhouse Road, Exmouth, admitted fraud and was jailed for ten months, suspended for 15 months and ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work and ten days of supervision by Judge David Evans.

He told her: “Your dishonesty had a serious effect on the pre-school, a charity whose finances were always close to the bone. You were in a position of trust and when it came to light you made yourself scarce or had the shameful temerity to say you were being harassed.

“It cannot be said you were on the breadline. There are many, many families who are far worse off than you and who do not resort to this sort of dishonest behaviour.

“There are significant mitigating factors. You have no previous convictions. This was not out and out greed. You were struggling to manage and did not spend money on lavish living.

“I bear in mind above all else you have four children, two of whom are not yet adults and you are a single parent.”

Mr William Hunter, prosecuting, said Wallace was treasurer from 2013 to 2016 and resigned shortly before a tax inspector visited to inquire about missing PAYE and National Insurance payments.

Bank statements showed the money had been paid into Wallace’s account. She initially claimed she was channeling it to the taxman, but later admitted stealing most of if.

She siphoned off a total of £10,499 between April 2015 and August 2016 but spent £1,850 on legitimately on behalf of the playgroup.

Miss Rachel Smith, defending, said Wallace became overwhelmed by her financial difficulties and then hid her head in the sand when the playgroup’s losses came to light.

She is now working at a garden centre and hoping to take part in a Government scheme to start her own small business.

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