Primary school worker who stole £490,000 to fund 'extravagant lifestyle’ is jailed

Debra Poole, 61, was in charge of the bank accounts at Hinchley Wood Primary School in Surrey.

Debra Poole has been hailed for six-and-a-half years. (SWNS)
Debra Poole has been hailed for six-and-a-half years. (SWNS)

A primary school worker who stole hundreds of thousands of pounds to fund an "extravagant lifestyle" of luxury holidays and cars has been jailed for six-and-a-half years.

Debra Poole, 61, was in charge of the bank accounts at Hinchley Wood Primary School in Surrey.

Kingston Crown Court heard how Poole caused her position as signatory of the after-school club’s bank account to the tune of £490,000 from October 2011 until October 2018.

Poole was convicted of one count of fraud by abuse of position and three counts of fraud by false representation following a trial and was sentenced on Friday.

Kingston Crown Court, 6-8 Penrhyn Road, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, KT1 2BB. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday January 13, 2020. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire (Photo by Nick Ansell/PA Images via Getty Images)
Debra Poole was jailed at Kingston Crown Court. (Getty)

Poole began working at Hinchley Wood as school secretary in February 2000 before being promoted to senior administration officer four years later.

As well as overseeing the school’s finances, she oversaw the documentation used for any changes to staff pay.

Poole would transfer funds, write out cheques to herself and then cash the cheques.

The school was left without basic supplies while parents said their children's education had suffered, the court heard.

Poole enjoyed a luxury lifestyle of expensive holidays in locations including New York and Amsterdam.

In February 2009, Poole submitted a 'Variation in Pay Form' to Surrey County Council, in which she increased her own salary scale from level E to F.

Two years later she submitted further paperwork increasing her pay scale further from level SP9 to SP10.

She also claimed that between June 2016 and September 2018 she was working 30 hours a week administering the breakfast club and after school clubs.

Her husband, Gary Poole, 67, was found not guilty of one charge of acquisition, use and possession under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Detective Constable Lloyd Ives, who investigated the case, said: "This gross breach of trust and her elaborate deception spanning some nine years funded an extravagant lifestyle and afforded her luxury holidays and cars which she would not otherwise have been able to afford.

DC Ives added: “I hope that the sentence given to her today shows the seriousness with which such a massive abuse of trust and position is taken.”