Headteacher 'raided school funds to pay for holiday and laptop', court hears

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A headteacher took more than £4,000 from school funds to pay for a holiday to New York, a laptop and meals, a court heard.

Melanie Rose, 46, abused her position to spend lavishly on herself and staff at Ben Jonson Primary School in Tower Hamlets, it is said.

She is accused of spending £2,388 on an Apple laptop, which she gave to her partner as a Christmas present, and more than £1,000 on the five-day stay at the Ace Hotel in New York.

Prosecutor Kevin Walls told Snaresbrook crown court that an August 2013 audit showed Rose had “liberally peppered” the school’s petty cash account with illegitimate withdrawals. 

He said staff had strict £30 limits on petty cash, but Rose repeatedly broke the rules between January 2010 and August 2013.

“This is public money, funds provided to the school,” said Mr Walls. “On a number of occasions she claimed expenses for things she knew she had no right to while she was headteacher.”

The court heard that Rose used the school’s money to pay for staff meals out, including £293 at Zizzi and £107 at Nuovo in Canary Wharf. 

She is also accused of spending £363 on a meal in September 2012, and £83 on a shopping trip to Tesco.

Jurors heard that the Apple laptop, bought in December 2011, was never used at the school, and Rose initially claimed it had broken when she spilled tea on it. However, it was found in working order during a police search of her home last year.

The headteacher then allegedly admitted buying it as a present for her partner, Colin Payne.

Rose, from Loughton, denies three counts of fraud. The trial continues.

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