School finance manager cleared of thefts

St William's RC Primary at Ince
St William's RC Primary at Ince
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A school business manager accused of stealing nearly £7,700 from a Wigan primary has been cleared of all charges.

Sharon Hunter insisted she had not dipped into funds at St William's RC Primary, in Ince, between 2013 and 2016.

And jurors at Bolton Crown Court cleared her of three theft charges after less than a day of deliberations.

Mrs Hunter, of Turner Avenue, Bickershaw, told a trial hearing how she was "absolutely devastated" that colleagues at the Ince Green Lane school, where she had worked for eight years, could think she was capable of stealing from St William's.

Interviewed by police, she said: "“I had a lot of personal problems at the time, which had started to get on top of me. I had taken on too much.”

She also told the interviewing officer she was not only responsible for financial matters but also handled human resources issues, dealt with building contracts and took sports classes. Eventually she went off sick, at the start of 2016.

Prosecutors had alleged she had taken money which had been handed over by parents for a breakfast club, the nursery there and a school trip.

The accusations came after an audit was carried out by auditors from Wigan Council in May 2016.

But the defendant insisted that the missing money had been spent, on an ad hoc basis, as petty cash, on everything from tea and milk for the staff room to communion and jubilee parties.

She said that the discrepancies were "purely down to poor accounting" or that the missing money had in fact been spent as petty cash, jurors heard.