Luton school worker sentenced after theft from fundraising collections
A Luton school worker who pocketed thousands of pounds of fundraising money has been handed a community order.
Kristina Meader, 28, of Henley Close, Houghton Regis, appeared for sentencing at Luton Magistrates Court yesterday (Thursday), after pleading guilty to stealing £2,520 while employed at Cardinal Newman Catholic School.
She was handed a 12-month community order to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work, along with £85 costs and an £85 surcharge.
Meader, herself a former pupil at Cardinal Newman, began working in its finance department in 2010, directly under her mother Sue Meader - who was the academy trust's finance manager.
In June 2018, staff began noticing discrepancies in some of the school's fundraising accounts handled by Meader.
When confronted by her mother, she handed over £2,520 in stolen cash and resigned from the school, declining her last month's salary.
The court was told Meader was "remorseful" for her actions and had been in an abusive relationship with an ex-partner, who apparently gambled and "pressured" her into taking out loans.
Ahyaz Mohammed, defending, said: "This offence happened in June 2018 and it's been hanging over her head for the past few years, it's been very difficult for her.
"Since the offence, her life has basically stopped while waiting for this outcome today. She's not been able to concentrate on her life and she's not been able to move on. She's suffered mentally and has been unable to sleep, thinking about what the outcome could be."
A report by the probation service added: "She says she was in significant debt due to an ex-partner who pressured her into taking loans out to fund his gambling debts. She met a new partner in 2017 but was struggling to pay back the loans.
"She really enjoyed her job but felt pressured to commit these offences.
"She has lost her job, friends and family due to committing these offences. She struggled extremely to gain employment but has since found new work...
"Kristina Meader accepts she made it extremely difficult for her mother, who was her manager, and her siblings stopped talking to her. Her brother is now helping her gain control over her finances."
Meader was supported in court by her brother. After hearing deliberations from both sides, Magistrates imposed the community order.