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Mark Jackson successfully prosecutes case of corrupt headteacher

A corrupt headteacher and her school secretary face long jail sentences after being convicted of a fraud that may have involved hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Michelle Hollingsworth and 57-year-old Deborah Jones systematically syphoned cash from Annie Lennard Primary in Smethwick by using the school’s cheques on spending sprees at far flung boutique shops.

They bought a wide range of luxury products ranging from expensive designer clothes to antique furniture, oil paintings, £70-a-pot paint and antique lamp posts while conspiring together to defraud the school and Sandwell Council from January 2010 and September 2015.

Receipts and purchase orders were doctored to make it look as if the goods had been bought from educational suppliers.

The pair also plotted with builders and traders who they paid with school cash for jobs that were either not done or vastly overpriced in the expectation of pocketing kick-backs from the deals.

Mr Mark Jackson, prosecuting on behalf of Sandwell Council, told the Wolverhampton Crown Court jury Michelle Hollingsworth “used the school’s money as her personal bank for years.”

The jury convicted six of the nine defendants and acquitted Joe Hollingsworth’s sister Fiona Dewsbury, her daughter Elaine Dewsbury and Andrew Feltham’s son Daniel.

Judge Simon Ward said the fraud could have involved hundreds of thousands of pounds and warned of long jail terms.

See the Express and Star case coverage.