Thieving charity boss sacked as 19-year reign ends in court

A thieving charity chief executive has been sacked and hauled before magistrates - after plundering petty cash to buy a TV and BBQ. Jane Harding had been the chief executive of North Staffs Carers Association for 19 years.

But she was sacked after her thieving came to light and she has now admitted her crimes at North Staffordshire Justice Centre. The 55-year-old has been warned she could be jailed.

Ian Shaw, prosecuting, told magistrates: "It's quite a sad case frankly. Ms Harding was chief executive officer of North Staffs Carers and had been in that role for around 19 years.

READ: 'Old fool' stole thousands from charity he ran a year after being made MBE - Ian Ashbolt - a former parish councillor - syphoned money from the charity’s bank account into his own after 'getting in a muddle'

READ: Thieving mum stole £2k worth of neighbour's belongings and headed to pawn shop - Carmela Giglia tried to cover up her crime by throwing her neighbour's Ring doorbell in the skip

"It came to light in October 2021 that there were some discrepancies in petty cash. The deputy chief executive officer and chair of the organisation started doing some investigation and it transpired that they discovered that Ms Harding had been claiming money, putting in petty cash receipts which represented items that had been purchased but not for the benefit of the charity.

"Among them was a TV and a barbecue. What seems to have happened is when items were bought, other staff who had the authority to sign for petty cash were asked to sign blank slips and Ms Harding said she would fill in the details later.

"Items she had bought and claimed for included the barbecue which was seen on a website when the house was for sale in the back garden. A TV was purchased which is still in her possession.

"A meeting was held with Ms Harding. Ms Harding was dismissed from her post."

North Staffs Carers Association called in Staffordshire Police which twice interviewed Harding.

Mr Shaw added: "It is clearly a serious matter in terms of breach of trust because of the position Ms Harding held as chief executive. She was a lady of previous good character, as you would expect from someone who held that sort of position."

Harding, of George Steele Avenue, Bucknall, has pleaded guilty to the theft of £945.55 from North Staffs Carers Association between May 29 2019 and December 15 2021. She will be sentenced on September 16.

Janice Sain-Reiners, mitigating, highlighted Harding's previous good character and long service to the charity.

She added: "She has had difficulties with her mental health and physical health and a relationship breakdown at the time of these offences. I would suggest a pre-sentence report would be very useful. I have heard this took place during Covid times, when things were difficult, and she has had considerable stress since the allegations."

Get all the latest news from court here