Fraud head avoids jail

Ex-of­fice man­ager and head teacher both guilty of fraud

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - By Paul Hooper

Of­fice man­ager Yvonne Puck­nell made fre­quent trips to the su­per­mar­ket to buy food for her pri­mary school’s break­fast club.

How­ever, it was only when an of­fi­cial took a closer look at the re­ceipts they saw th­ese in­cluded meat… and al­co­hol!

The school’s credit card had also been used to buy items at Pets At Home – only Ash­ford’s Phoenix Com­mu­nity Pri­mary School didn’t have any an­i­mals.

That trig­gered an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into how the credit cards were be­ing used.

This led po­lice to dis­cover the 62-year-old mother had been paid for a ho­tel stay, presents for her daugh­ter, a PlayS­ta­tion con­sole and her fuel bills, in all to­talling more than £9,600.

But a court has heard that it wasn’t only Puck­nell, of By­brook Close, Ken­ning­ton who was us­ing the cards il­le­gally – so was the school’s for­mer head teacher, Robert Ju­niper.

Now the two have re­ceived sus­pended jail sen­tences at Can­ter­bury Crown Court af­ter ad­mit­ting fraud charges.

Ju­niper, of Ju­bilee Field, Upchurch, near Sit­ting­bourne, had helped him­self to cash as a ‘free’ loan in­tend­ing to re­pay it, the judge was told.

Pros­e­cu­tor Adam Wol­sten­holme said the two had ad­mit­ted “fraud by abuse of po­si­tion” while work­ing for Kent County Coun­cil (KCC) at the school in Bel­mont Road, Ken­ning­ton.

He said the cards were used il­le­gally be­tween Jan­uary 2011 and April 2013 and the scam was only dis­cov­ered when Ju­niper’s suc­ces­sor, Frances Na­tion, queried ac­counts which had been of­fi­cially au­dited.

The pros­e­cu­tor said she dis­cov­ered a dis­crep­ancy in the fig­ures re­lat­ing to how the school’s two credit cards were be­ing used by the head and of­fice man­ager.

“They were sup­posed to be for school use but Puck­nell had used one of the cards for her own use, pay­ing for £2,117 of petrol, for food items at su­per­mar­kets, buy­ing work­ing tools, a ho­tel stay in Belfast and pay­ments to Ama­zon.

“The school ac­counts had been amended to claim li­brary books had been bought through Ama­zon. “

But Mr Wol­sten­holme re­vealed that a PlayS­ta­tion and “col­lectibles” had been bought for Puck­nell’s daugh­ter us­ing the card.

Ju­niper, who was work­ing at Knock­all Com­mu­nity Pri­mary School in Green­hithe when the of­fences were dis­cov­ered, dis­puted the amount he was al­leged to have taken.

He claimed he only took £651 but the pros­e­cu­tion say the fig­ure is nearer £4,228, the court heard.

Guy Wyatt, for Puck­nell, said she planned to re­pay the money back from her KCC pen­sion.

“The re­al­ity is she will never work again, never be trusted again by any­one in re­la­tion to keep­ing fi­nan­cial records and has now re­tired.”

Martin Khoshdel, for Ju­niper, 57, said he had been “stupid and naive” and has since re­paid more than £4,200.

“He ac­cepts he made pur­chases at that time which were not for the school but in­tended pay­ing it back. “He is ex­tremely re­morse­ful.” Recorder Mark Ock­el­ton, gave Puck­nell a 12-month jail sen­tence sus­pended for two years and or­dered her to do 200 hours of un­paid work.

He said: “The presents you gave your daugh­ter were not acts of gen­eros­ity but acts of fraud.”

Ju­niper was given a 30-week jail sen­tence sus­pended for two years and or­dered to do 150 hours of com­mu­nity work.

The judge added: “You were re­garded as pil­lars of so­ci­ety but you took the credit cards and used them to fund your own life­styles.”

The judge also re­vealed some of the money had been used to pay some­one to carry out work in school who “for rea­sons of his own crim­i­nal his­tory” couldn’t be of­fi­cially em­ployed there. No other de­tails were given.

‘You were re­garded as pil­lars of so­ci­ety but you took the credit cards to fund your own life­styles’

Pic­ture: Alan Lan­g­ley

For­mer Phoenix Pri­mary School head teacher, Robert Ju­niper, and of­fice man­ager, Yvonne Puck­nell, were both given sus­pended sen­tences

Pic­ture: Paul Amos FM3172320

The cards were used to de­fraud Ash­ford’s Phoenix Pri­mary school be­tween Jan­uary 2011 and April 2013

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