Cheque scam left pre-school club in red

PUBLISHED: 09:53 03 January 2007 | UPDATED: 22:28 28 May 2010

THE treasurer of the Manea Strawberry Patch Pre-School Club pocketed more than £4,000 from funds, leaving the organisation in the red and staff unpaid. Mark Egerton first helped himself to cash by using cheques pre-signed by a former chairman who emigrate

THE treasurer of the Manea Strawberry Patch Pre-School Club pocketed more than £4,000 from funds, leaving the organisation in the red and staff unpaid.

Mark Egerton first helped himself to cash by using cheques pre-signed by a former chairman who emigrated.

He started by borrowing £100 to help meet his family bills, but the sums increased and by September the group's bank account was overdrawn, their insurance policy was unpaid and staff wages were not met.

"This was a fine upstanding citizen who got into financial difficulties, he was too proud to ask for help and did not even tell his wife," solicitor Roger Glazebrook told Fenland magistrates on Tuesday.

Once the extent of the Pre-School's cash crisis was known, Egerton's father re-paid all the missing money.

Egerton, 33, of Huntingdon Road, Chatteris, admitted stealing £3,000 on May 24 last year, and asked for seven similar thefts to be taken into consideration.

Prosecuting, David Myles said Strawberry Patch Pre-School Club was attached to the Manea Primary School. It was a registered charity that received government funding of around £30,000.

Egerton, an IT consultant took over as treasurer in February last year. A previous chairman had pre-signed some cheques, and when the new chairman took over, they was concern over the non-payment of bills and the low bank balance.

In September it was discovered that the bank account was overdrawn, and a number of transfers had been made that could not be explained, including one for £3,000. Cash collected by fund raising was also missing.

When interviewed by police, Egerton admitted he had used the money to meet his family bills. His wife had been unaware of his deceit.

Solicitor Mr Glazebrook said Egerton had originally planned to pay back the money he took, but later realised it would not be possible.

Egerton was warned he could be jailed or sent to Cambridge Crown Court for sentencing. The magistrates will consider a report on January 23. He was given unconditional bail.

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