BY SIMON CALD WELL
A FORMER headmistress and her bursar appeared in court this week to face charges of plundering up to half a million pounds from a Catholic school.
Colleen McCabe of Sidcup, Kent, and Maureen Stapley of Addiscombe, Surrey, were accused of raiding the budget of St John Rigby Sixth Form College, West Wickham, Kent, to pay for designer jewellery, West End theatre tickets, trips on the Orient Express and evenings in fine restaurants.
Southwark Crown Court heard that the pair, dismissed by the college amid allegations of fraud, also used funds to buy furniture, electrical goods and a season ticket for Crystal Palace Football Club.
McCabe, 50, was also accused of forging cheques from the school coffers and paying them into her own account. The college has an annual budget of £3 million.
McCabe denies 17 charges of theft between 24 May 1995 and August 10, 1999 of funds totalling more than £74,000, and also denies a further two charges of obtaining £14,800 by deception.
Stapley, 41, denies seven charges of theft between 24 January 1996 and 25 July 1999 of £15,290 of funds and a further six charges of obtaining £12,800 by deception.
The court was told that the pair, who had worked at the college for nine years before the alleged fraud was uncovered by auditors, used corporate credit cards, which they cancelled a week before the college's accounts were inspected.
The case was continuing as The Catholic Herald went to press.