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Head jailed for theft given two-year ban

After nine months in prison a former primary head is given verdict on his future teaching prospects, reports Julie Turner

A headteacher who was jailed after stealing more than pound;80,000 from school accounts to pay off credit card debts was this week banned from teaching for two years.

Grahame Arnold was sentenced to two years' imprisonment last November after stealing money from the Adams School in Wem, north Shropshire.

The 58-year-old, released in August on a home curfew and now tagged, used part of the cash to buy clothes, cars and a private registration plate.

England's General Teaching Council heard that he stole the money over five years to cover repayments on 18 credit cards.

He denied 30 charges of stealing the cash when he appeared at Shrewsbury Crown Court last November but was found guilty after an eight-day trial.

The specimen charges involved more than pound;23,000 but the prosecution alleged that the total taken exceeded pound;80,000.

Shropshire County Council discovered thefts ranging from just under pound;60 to more than pound;2,000, following a routine audit.

Roger Dakin, school business manager, questioned payments to Mr Arnold's credit card accounts, but the head told him that the local authority allowed his expenses to be paid in that way.

Detective Constable Gary Earp, a West Mercia police fraud officer, told the GTCE that the police were called in by the local education authority in February 2000 following Arnold's resignation in October 1999.

The investigation revealed that he had bought two Land Rovers. He sold one and kept the proceeds and bought a private registration plate and a four-litre V8 engine for the other.

DC Earp said Arnold made substantial personal expense claims for two trips to the United States in 1995 and 1996 where he had accompanied the school jazz band, including pound;300 spent in a Levi jeans shop.

He said the head's monthly claims had matched exactly his credit card repayments.

Arnold was appointed head of Adams school in September 1988 and Bradley Albuery, GTCE presenting officer, said he started to take money from school funds in 1995.

He said that the head, who was not present or represented at the hearing, had never shown any remorse.

"Mr Arnold was an impressive, energetic and inspirational educationist, well-respected by his peers," he said. "No concerns have ever been expressed about his ability to teach, but sadly there appears to have been another side to his character.

"Over five years he stole funds to finance a lifestyle that may not have been otherwise available to him."

Arnold was issued with a prohibition order and is not allowed to reapply to teach again for two years.

He has repaid pound;90,098 - plus pound;10,000 in court costs, and was declared bankrupt at Birmingham County Court in September.

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