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Pre-school administrator stole £5,000

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 02, 2013

The former administrator of a pre-school has admitted stealing thousands of pounds from its accounts over 11 months.

Abigail McPherson, aged 36, took more than £5,000 from the school at Lapford while she was employed to run the pre-school during the 2009 – 2010 academic year.

The administrator complained she had been the victim of a miscarriage of justice when similar charges against her were brought and then dropped last year.

She described the case against her as a farce and said she had been forced to withdraw her daughter from the village school because of the publicity.

The young mother was charged for a second time after the case was reopened by police and the Crown Prosecution Service and has now admitted a string of offences.

McPherson, of Greenaway, Morchard Bishop, admitted three frauds and eight thefts totalling £5,474.05 when she appeared at Exeter Crown Court.

She denied eight other offences of false accounting which related to allegations that she tampered with cheque stubs and other records.

The charges allege she took money by writing cheques for cash on the Lapford Pre-School account and taking amounts ranging from £150 to £800 on occasions between September 2009 and August 2010.

She also admitted failing to pay an insurance renewal and some invoices.

Among the charges she denies is the allegation she withdrew more money than was needed to pay wages and pocketed the difference.

Mr Tom Bradnock, prosecuting, said the pleas were acceptable and reflected the totality of her offending. He said confiscation proceedings will now follow.

Mr Mark Jackson, defending, asked for the case to be adjourned for a pre-sentence report and said McPherson was a woman of previous good character who is now living on benefits.

Judge Erik Salomonsen adjourned the case and told her: "You have pleaded guilty to a number of counts of fraud and theft from the Lapford pre-school. Your representative will have explained the court's sentencing powers.

"I am going to adjourn the case for a pre-sentence report so the court can understand all there is to know and the report can address all the sentencing options.

"In seeking a report I am making no promises about the eventual outcome."

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