The former business manager of a school has been jailed for stealing more than £220,000 from her employer’s account.
Kirsty Holmes, 45 (11.04.73), and her partner Sunday Kalu, 47 (05.07.71) both of Gillingham, Kent were both sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment at Kingston Crown Court on Wednesday, 3 October after being found guilty of theft by employee, after a trial.
Holmes worked at Battersea Park School, Wandsworth from January 2009 until late 2011. The school has since closed.
Between May and November 2011 - after the 2010/2011 financial audit and with the 2011/2012 audit review due to be held in January 2012 - 15 cheques totalling £220,209 was paid out of the school’s account.
In late October 2011, Holmes resigned from the school. She left at the end of November.
The 2011/2012 audit of the school’s finances identified the cheque pay-outs and found that there were no corresponding invoices.
The suspected theft was reported to police in March 2012.
Enquires found that the cheques, for between £7,500 and £32,000, were deposited in bank accounts in the Gillingham and Chatham areas of Kent.
Bank enquires shows that the monies were later deposited into the accounts of Holmes and Kalu. All these accounts were emptied by the end of December 2011. The people cashing the cheques were found to be friends of both Holmes and Kalu.
Holmes was arrested at Gatwick Airport in December 2014, upon returning to the UK. Kalu was arrested the following year. Both denied knowledge of the theft and blamed each other.
DS Donnett Oseni, who led the investigation, said: “This was a very difficult case that took more than six years to bring to trial, with most witnesses reluctant to give evidence.
“Holmes abused a position of trust by stealing school funds – taxpayers’ money that was intended for the running of the school and the education of the students.
“The jail sentence handed down reflects the seriousness of the offence.
“I hope this case sends out the message that we will pursue prosecutions, even when years pass and the suspect thinks they have evaded authorities.”
Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings will follow.
= Note to media: there is no custody image of Kalu