altA primary school employee has recently hit the headlines for stealing over £30,000 of dinner money to fund her addiction to bingo. 38-year-old Claire Mosby embezzled the money from Swarcliffe Primary School in Leeds during a two-year period, whilst she was working there as an office manager. Leeds Crown Court was told that the mum-of-three had a gambling addiction, and used the money to fund her habit, as well as pay off debts. The jury found her guilty of embezzling £31k that had been collected from the schoolchildren’s parents for breakfasts, dinners, lunches, trips, and after-school clubs.

Mosby’s bank records showed transactions for bingo and gambling websites, as well as cash withdrawals from a cash-point situated close to a Mecca Bingo club.

The alarm bells first started sounding when a school finance officer from the local authority, Kate Davison, stated her concerns over the lack of funds in the dinner money account. Whilst she tried get Mosby to commit to meeting with her, Mosby was uncooperative and ‘obstructive.’ Eventually, Ms. Davidson calculated the shortfall in the account as £17k, which Ms. Mosby was unable to explain. 

In March 2011, a search in one of the school’s safes produced envelopes written by Mosby which had money missing. She was immediately suspended, and subsequently admitted to taking loans from door-to-door lenders. At the trial, she claimed that she was scared of reporting the missing cash from the safe, as she was concerned it would point the finger at the head teacher, Susan Sanderson. She told the court she believed that people would think it was her, and that if she had spoken up about it, it would appear as though she “was accusing Susan Sanderson of taking it.”

During the period that the alleged theft occurred, Mosby was proved to have spent almost £2k on gambling websites, and she also admitted to frequenting her local Mecca Bingo club with her husband, as well as playing online.

In a generous move, the presiding judge released the defendant until after the Christmas period, deferring her sentencing until the New Year. However, he also warned her that she will face a ‘significant’ sentence in prison.

If you agree with the ruling, how long do you think Ms. Mosby should spend in jail for her crime? One reader of the Daily Mail’s website says she should have to sell “some of her assets to repay all the money, plus interest,” whilst another doesn’t understand how “hard-up schools can lose track of £30k+ over two years.”

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