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Banned: Cocaine addict who defrauded his school

James Garner created false invoices for IT equipment he was buying for St Mary's Catholic High School, Manchester

James Garner, fraud, equipment, it, technology, teacher, St Mary's Catholic High School, Manchester, teaching regulation agency, tra, banned, editorial

James Garner created false invoices for IT equipment he was buying for St Mary's Catholic High School, Manchester

A cocaine-addicted teacher who was given a suspended prison sentence for defrauding his school to pay off his debts has been banned from teaching for life.

James Garner, a technology teacher at St Mary's Catholic High School, Manchester, created false invoices for equipment he was buying for the school.

Last December, the 27-year-old was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, as well as 10 hours of rehabilitation activity and 150 hours of unpaid work.

The judge said the total value of the fraud was “something in the region of £15,000 to £16,000”.

A report by the Teaching Regulation Agency, published today, says Mr Garner started work at the school in 2013, and, as well as teaching, was responsible for the procurement of iPads, software licenses and ancillary equipment on behalf of the school.

He was suspended in May 2016 following an allegation that he had stolen money from the school.

The report says that during an investigation by Wigan Council “additional allegations indicated that Mr Garner may have fraudulently signed a number of school petty cash receipts, received payments not owed to him and falsely claimed from school funds for invoices for IT services”.

After being arrested, he admitted committing fraud, and was prosecuted.

At his sentencing hearing, the judge told him: “When the police got hold of the matter you admitted it pretty quickly and explained that you were in very substantial debt due to a long-standing addiction to cocaine."

The report says there were “24 occasions spread over a period of at least a year which had been identified as contributing to the fraud”, and adds: “The panel also noted that Mr Garner went to elaborate lengths to provide the information on which the fraud was based including creating false invoices.”

In mitigation, the report says he had admitted the offence and apologised for the impact of his conviction on his family, but the panel was concerned that he had “not shown sufficient insight into the damage that the behaviour that led to the conviction could have caused to the school, colleagues, children and the teaching profession”.

It adds: “Mr Garner's personal circumstances appeared to have been challenging but the panel had no evidence of the treatment he had sought or received for his long-standing addiction to a class A drug, namely, cocaine.”

Dawn Dandy, who made the final decision on behalf of the education secretary, accepted the panel’s recommendation that Mr Garner be banned from teaching, and not be allowed to apply for his eligibility to be restored.

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