‘Fraudsters robbed pupils of trips and music lessons’
Pair admit to helping themselves to £13,000 from school Exclusive
A head teacher has told how his pupils were let down by two former members of staff who together stole thousands of pounds from the school.
On Monday, Yvonne Pucknell, the ex-office manager at Phoenix Community Primary School, in Belmont Road, Kennington, pleaded guilty to fraud during her trial at Canterbury Crown Court.
It follows a guilty plea of fraud by the former head, Robert Juniper, 55, of Jubilee Fields, Upchurch, who admitted helping himself to more than £4,000 of the school’s money.
This week, the school’s current head teacher, James Tibbles, said that the two fraudsters let pupils down and robbed them of opportunities, such as school trips and new musical instruments, because the money wasn’t available.
He said: “I am very pleased that this unfortunate issue is now behind the school and that we can finally move forward.
“Over the past three years, the school has been transformed into one where children are given opportunities that were not previously available to them such as learning musical instruments, visiting other countries and trips on our two new minibuses.
“Our recent parental survey shows that our parents really value these experiences.”
Juniper and Pucknell first appeared at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court in March 2015.
The court heard that Juniper’s successor, Frances Nation, spotted a discrepancy in the school’s financial records and queried it.
Juniper next appeared at Canterbury Crown Court in July 2015, where he pleaded guilty to one charge relating to £4,228 between November 2011 and April 2013.
This week, Pucknell, 62, of Bybrook Road, Kennington, who previously denied her guilt, pleaded guilty to fraud by misusing the school’s credit cards, creating a bill of £7,523, and stealing £2,091.
They are both due to be sentenced in court on Friday, February 19.
Mr Tibbles added: “Phoenix Community Primary School is committed to providing our pupils with the very best possible education that we can offer and, with the support of the local community, will continue to do so.”
Former head teacher Robert Juniper and, right, Yvonne Pucknell outside court
Phoenix Primary School head teacher James Tibbles