Worker who stole school trips cash spared jail
A SCHOOL worker who pocketed thousands of pounds sent in by parents to pay for trips has avoided prison.
Cheryl Arbury, 48, breached the trust of Archbishop Sentamu Academy in east Hull by stealing £3,000 meant to fund trips to Austria and the Lake District.
But Recorder Michael Slater, sitting at Hull Crown Court, told Arbury he did not believe an immediate prison term was necessary.
Arbury, who has since resigned from her position as student services manager at the academy, even billed parents for trips that were free, the court heard.
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She also sent a letter to parents asking for more money to make up a shortfall in the cost of one trip, stealing the cash.
Prosecutor Bernard Gateshill said when Arbury was arrested, a large number of expensive items were discovered at her home.
Detectives found 18 iPads, a Sony Vaio Frame, book vouchers, six sets of headphones and cinema vouchers, which were gifts bought to reward pupils' achievements.
Arbury, of York Road Cottages, Bishop Burton, denied stealing the equipment and vouchers, claiming she had permission to keep them at her home.
However, she pleaded guilty on July 10 to one count of theft, relating to £3,000 stolen between September 2009 and February last year.
Officers were called in after the school noticed discrepancies and launched an internal investigation, discovering a shortfall in transactions for four school trips.
In mitigation, Gareth Weetman said Arbury was struggling with debts totalling £35,000 after the break-up of a relationship and had recently lost a baby.
He said: "This was not an offence of greed.
"She was placed in an environment with a somewhat haphazard cash system.
"Her fault was to give in to that temptation. She was, to use that common term, robbing Peter to pay Paul."
Mr Weetman said there had been no "professional planning" on her client's part and appealed for mercy from the court.
Sentencing Arbury to two months in prison, suspended for 12 months, Recorder Slater told her: "You did this to try to relieve your extremely difficult financial situation at home.
"That is not an excuse. It is an explanation of what you did.
"At the end of the period of offending, you suffered a terrible and enduring personal tragedy.
"Your offending was of a serious nature. It was a breach of trust. It was over a sustained period of time and involved premeditation."
Recorder Slater also handed Arbury a 12-month supervision order, which means she must comply fully with the Probation Service.