School office worker admits stealing £1,100 petty cash
8:53am Wednesday 17th October 2012 in News
A SCHOOL office assistant who stole more than £1,000 from petty cash at Smithills School has been warned she could face jail.
Carrie Smith’s trial at Bolton Crown Court was dramatically halted on its second day yesterday after she changed her plea to guilty.
Smith, aged 40, of Doncaster Close, Little Lever, admitted the theft of £1,149.61 from school funds after listening to evidence given by Bolton Council auditor Yvonne Latham, who had checked through the school’s petty cash records and receipts to identify where cash was missing.
Smith had initially denied three counts of theft.
Recorder Timothy Stead asked the jury to formally return a guilty verdict on the theft of the £1,149.61 and ordered two counts of theft of a further £149.27 and £426.05 to lie on file.
The court heard Smith worked as a finance assistant at the school for four years and her bosses placed a high level of trust in her.
But Charlotte Holland, prosecuting, said her superior, Anne Butler began having concerns when she saw Smith acting suspiciously near a charity bucket on December 14.
An audit was carried which discovered money missing from the petty cash, including evidence of money paid out twice for the receipts presented by school staff.
When confronted Smith admitted to her manager there was money missing from the petty cash tins, but claimed that was because she had lost an envelope containing £799.
The jury was told a disciplinary hearing was held and Smith was sacked, then in February this year, she wrote to the former headteacher, Christopher Roberts, describing it as the worst time of her life. Smith, who the court heard has debts of £8,000, offered to repay £642.93, but the offer was not taken up and the incident reported to the police.
Miss Holland told Recorder Stead the theft is made more serious by the breach of trust involved.
“The degree of trust was enormous. No one was checking what she was doing and it was a very small office,” she said.
Recorder Stead granted Smith unconditional bail until November 16 when she will be sentenced and has been warned she could face jail.