Ir­lam head took cash raised by pupils and par­ents from school fund

Salford Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Paul Brit­ton

ATRUSTED head who stole thou­sands of pounds from her school’s ac­counts has walked free from court.

Va­lerie Rutty, 60, for­mer head at Ir­lam Pri­mary School in Sal­ford, plun­dered cash from an ac­count ti­tled ‘Ir­lam Pri­mary School Fund’ for al­most four years. The money had been raised by par­ents and pupils through fetes and non­uni­form days and was for school trips and foot­ball kits.

Rutty, who had no pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions, took £3,469 be­tween De­cem­ber 2010 and last May. She pleaded guilty to a sin­gle count of theft.

Manch­ester Crown Court was told her theft emerged last Au­gust af­ter an anony­mous let­ter was sent to a mem­ber of staff say­ing she had been plun- de­r­ing the ac­counts. Au­di­tors were called in and doc­u­ments and in­voices seized. Amend­ments to in­voices were dis­cov­ered.

One was from a land­scape gar­den­ing com­pany and Juliet Berry, pros­e­cut­ing, said anal­y­sis of that doc­u­ment led au­di­tors to ex­am­ine the en­tire school’s ac­counts.

In­voices, cheque books and pay­ing-in slips were as­sessed and fraud­u­lent trans­ac­tions found, the court heard.

Ms Berry said: “It be­came ap­par­ent that she had amended in­voices by in­creas­ing the amounts and writ­ten out cheques for the dif­fer­ence which were paid into her ac­count. There were nine trans­ac­tions over a near four-year pe­riod.”

The high­est pay­ment was £475, with the low­est £170.

Rutty, of Woolmer Close, Warrington, was suspended at the be­gin­ning of the au­tumn term last year. She has paid all the money back.

In a state­ment to the court, the school said it was ‘in des­per­ate need’ of the funds and staff and par­ents worked ‘very hard’ to raise the money, which was ear­marked for play fa­cil­i­ties and a stage.

Rutty sobbed in the dock as she was jailed for four months, suspended for 12 months, with 70 hours of un­paid work and £500 costs. It wasn’t re­vealed why she stole the money.

Judge Robert Ather­ton said teach­ers and par­ents ‘felt a level of per­sonal be­trayal’.

He said Rutty has ‘marred’ her ca­reer and added: “I do hope par­ents do not with­draw their sup­port. They play such an im­por­tant part in the fam­ily of the school. It would be very sad if this of­fence un­der­mined the good works peo­ple are car­ry­ing out, both the staff and the par­ents.” A new head is now in place.

●●Va­lerie Rutty for­mer head at Ir­lam Pri­mary School

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