FENLAND: Bursar stole £85,000 from school

PUBLISHED: 15:37 28 November 2008 | UPDATED: 08:45 02 June 2010

A THIEVING school bursar deprived young people of resources which could have improved their education.

Julie Balls, 44, of Friday Bridge was starting an 18 month jail sentence tonight for stealing £85,000 from Downham Market High School.

She had earlier a

A THIEVING school bursar deprived young people of resources which could have improved their education.

Julie Balls, 44, of Friday Bridge was starting an 18 month jail sentence tonight for stealing £85,000 from Downham Market High School.

She had earlier admitted stealing credit balances of an unknown value between March 1999 and October 2006, and stealing £30,000 in cash between December 2004 and October 2006.

At Norwich Crown Court today Malcolm Robins, prosecuting, said this occurred over a seven year period and involved the misuse of some 300 cheques.

The thefts also involved thefts from canteen takings and thefts from the Ryston Sixth Form College.

He said she worked at the school from 1992 and became a bursar in 1998, dealing with the school finances on a day to day basis.

In was in October 2006 when Balls went off sick another employee at the school discovered discrepancies and matters came to light.

About 300 cheques had been made payable for cash which ended up in Balls' and her partner's bank accounts.

Mr Robins said Balls, and her partner were running up credit cards and then taking out another one and paying the others off.

When interviewed Balls tried to explain where the cash had gone. She admitted she had made out cheques for cash but said she had no records of what she had taken.

Last night former Downham Market High head Ian Bloom said: "Mrs Balls betrayed the trust placed in her for her selfish ends.

"Her actions deprived young people of essential resources and it is to the credit of all who work or support the school that it has continued to improve the quality of education provided for its students.

"Downham Market High School has worked very closely with Norfolk County Council and the police throughout this investigation and is delighted that the County Council will pursue its policy of reclaiming the stolen resources.

"Since this case came to light financial processes at the school have been reviewed and tightened and accounts are regularly audited. The school's finances are in a strong position and I have every confidence that the school will continue to flourish."

Lisa Christensen, Norfolk's director of children's services, said: "We are glad that justice has been done today and that Julie Balls has been sentenced for this crime.

"She breached a position of trust by taking money from the school where she was employed and it is deeply regrettable that Mrs Balls chose to abuse her position in this way.

"Cases such as this are extremely rare and are taken very seriously. We have robust processes in place to ensure such matters are investigated fully. As soon as we became aware that money had gone missing these investigation procedures were followed.

"Mrs Balls was questioned and was immediately suspended. Following a disciplinary hearing, her employment was terminated.

We hope that today's custodial sentence will send out a strong message to others that behaviour such as this is entirely unacceptable."

Katharine Moore, defending Balls, said at the time of the offences she was physically and medically low and suffering from a number of ailments. She was on a high level of medication and had been seriously depressed for 20 years.

Jailing her for 18 months Judge Peter Jacobs told her: "You helped yourself to school funds. You were writing out cheques to pay your own utility bills. An aggravating feature was you were trusted. You were living beyond your means.


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