A CHARITY treasurer who stole more than £3,800 from a preschool has apologised for her actions after walking free from court.
Leonie Stockdale, from Horringer, was given a 12 month community order after admitting an offence of stealing £3,825.90 from Little Teapots Preschool, in Chedburgh, between February 2010 and September 2011.
Stockdale, 45, of the Street, appeared before Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday. She was given a 12 month community order with supervision and must attend a women’s emotional well being programme. She was ordered to pay £235.90 compensation and £85 court costs.
Speaking to the Bury Free Press on Wednesday, Stockdale said: “I’m relieved by the result of the case. It was a positive result because I will get the counselling I need for my depression.
“I’m very apologetic for any upset I’ve caused.”
Prosecuting, Rosalind Cappleman told the court that, as treasurer, Stockdale was responsible for writing cheques, taking receipt of money coming into the school and keeping records. Miss Cappleman said: “She had full access to the bank account.”
David Stewart, in mitigation, said Stockdale was ‘devastated’ by the incident and was a woman of ‘impeccable character’.
Marie Bluett, from the probation service, said: “She was in a position of trust and feels she has let down friends and people she is very fond of. She sees it now as a cry for help. She didn’t really know why she did it.”
The court heard that the committee chairman first noticed a transaction of £500 from the preschool account to Stockdale’s personal account in September 2011. She explained that it was a mistake and she meant to take £50.
Stockdale gave up her role as treasurer and said she had been suffering from depression, before admitting that she had taken the £500 as well as writing a £90 cheque to herself. She gave the £590 back.
An audit of the committee account revealed that Stockdale had taken £3,325 without permission by using company cheques, transferring money from the account and taking petty cash – some of which came from fund-raising events. The total stolen was £3,825.90, of which she has since repaid £3,590.
Sentencing Stockdale, presiding magistrate Huw Davies said: “We accept your remorse as genuine and we believe this to be out of character.”
After the sentencing, members of the preschool committee said: “We are very disappointed, very hurt and let down. It is a lot of money to us.”