Headteacher bought leather reindeer with school cash, fraud trial hears
A headteacher embroiled in a fraud inquiry plundered school cash to buy a collection of “antiques” including a leather reindeer, jurors have heard.
Prosecutors allege Michelle Hollingsworth dipped into funds at Smethwick’s Annie Lennard Primary to finance her string of extravagant shopping sprees, along with co-accused Deborah Jones, 57.
But the 55-year-old claimed her expensive purchases were only for the school and accused prosecutor Mr Mark Jackson of "completely cofusing the issue".
During cross-examination, Hollingsworth said: “I have always done things like that for the school.
"Even though I was a school teacher, I was going out and buying things for the school.”
The two women allegedly bought handbags, shoes, designer clothes and furniture with the school's money while covering the scam with bogus purchase orders claiming the goods were educational.
Wolverhampton Crown Court heard “several thousands” was spent at one store named Chic Interiors, with Hollingsworth admitting she purchased a desk, bar stools and a leather reindeer.
The reindeer head was an “artefact” kept at the school under the stairs with other items unless used during teaching, Hollingsworth claimed on Friday.
She admitted buying other items including s £350 cupboard for the school’s nursery, a £1,150 storage unit and a £795 office table but claimed not all of the purchases were antiques as suggested.
Jurors were also told the former teacher, who was suspended in 2015, bought paving stones which she said she "randomly placed on the grass" at the school in 2013.
But extension work at the school, in The Oval, means the paving stones are no longer there, she claimed.
More from the trial:
- Alleged fraudster headteacher 'bought clothes at boutiques for school non-uniform days'
- Alleged fraudster headteacher 'offered secretary cash to take blame'
- Alleged fraudster headteacher ‘wanted cash back on school toilets’
- 'I can’t use a computer' says headteacher at centre of fraud trial
- Estimates for primary school works were inflated, trial told
- Primary school fraud trial told of grudges and gambling debts
- Carpenter admits role in primary school fraud
- Former Smethwick headteacher accused of fraud was 'manipulative'
- Primary school headteacher's family ‘told boyfriend to take fraud blame’
- Black Country primary school headteacher ‘gave contracts to family’
- School secretary 'husband’s firm paid £74k for phantom work'
Hollingsworth, of Hatherton Park, Cannock, added: "I knew how [many paving stones] to buy because I measured it.
"I put it down myself. It was just random pieces of stone, not with cement."
Jones, of Barrs Road, Cradley Heath, admits conspiring with the head teacher to defraud Sandwell Council and the school but denies further conspiracies alleged to have taken place with other people during the five year fraud.
Hollingsworth denies conspiring with Jones and all the other charges brought against her.
The case continues.
Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.