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Alleged fraudster headteacher ‘wanted cash back on school toilets’

By Dayna Farrington | Smethwick | Crime | Published:

A headteacher accused of being at the centre of a fraud at her school made out cheques for higher values in order to get amounts in cash back, a jury heard.

Michelle Hollingsworth is accused of defrauding the school she was headteacher of

Kitchen fitter Stephen Roberts said Michelle Hollingsworth asked him to get her items for Annie Lennard Primary in Smethwick, before she made out cheques from the school for more than the costs of the items to get cash back in hand.

The 59-year-old, in an interview read out to the court by prosecutor Mr Mark Jackson, said he had never been to or done any work at the school – and did not even know where it was.

Annie Lennard is a Sandwell Council primary school in Smethwick

Wolverhampton Crown Court was told he had gone to Hollingsworth’s home, in Hatherton Park, Cannock, in 2010 where he had been asked to look at supplying and fitting the kitchen at the home she shared with her husband, Joseph.

Roberts, of Coppice Barn, Great Saredon, Shareshill, said he could not fit the type of kitchen they had wanted but Hollingsworth had asked him if she could get hold of some smaller children’s toilets for the school.

In interview, Roberts said: “I thought she was the headmaster of a little school, she struggled to get things done at the school because they did not have the funds like bigger schools.

Stephen Roberts outside Wolverhampton Crown Court, where the case is being heard

“She asked if I could supply any sanitary little small children’s toilets.

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“I gave her a price and asked how many she wanted.

"She said three and rang up asking if she could pay me by cheque and I said fine. I trusted her as she was a headmaster of a school.”

Cash back

Hollingsworth then asked Roberts whether, if she upped the amount on the cheque to a higher amount, he could give her back the difference in cash so she could pay people at the school, the court heard.

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He added that the cheques had the school's name on them and had been signed by two people. Roberts said he thought he had also got her some wash basins, taps and a large radiator.

In interview he said the toilets had cost between £150 to £200 for the three, and he had then given her £1,000 in cash.

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He said: "She was the headmaster of the school, I honestly thought there was nothing wrong."

The court heard that Roberts said in his interview that looking back it was wrong and he "should not have done it".

He said that he had no invoices, paperwork or receipts for the items he supplied to Hollingsworth.

Roberts denies receiving fraudulent payments for work he had not done at the school.

Hollingsworth denies all charges of conspiring with a variety of people to defraud and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The trial continues.

Dayna Farrington

By Dayna Farrington
Senior reporter based at Wolverhampton

Reporter for the Express & Star based at Wolverhampton.

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