Playgroup treasurer jailed

CHRISTINE CUNNINGHAM A disgraced playgroup treasurer who stole more than £2000 from its funds was yesterday starting a six-month jail sentence.


A disgraced playgroup treasurer who stole more than £2,000 from the group's funds was yesterday starting a six-month jail sentence.

Kerry Wallbridge, 41, became treasurer of Little Melton playgroup in 2005 and starting writing cheques to herself and pocketing playgroup money.

Christopher Youell, prosecuting at Norwich Crown Court, said a number of mothers at the playgroup were concerned and raised

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queries over its finances. But when Wallbridge was approached she gave various excuses, such as her books were in her husband's car and he was working in London.

Mr Youell said that shortly after

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the money was found missing Wallbridge and her family went on holiday to Florida. In the end the mother-of-four was forced to accept she had taken the cash for her own use and police were called in.

In a statement, playgroup members said the thefts had caused a great deal of anguish in the village.

Wallbridge, of Gibbs Close, Little Melton, admitted theft from the playgroup from October 2005 to July 2006.

The court heard she had a previous offence of theft in 1995, another for obtaining property by deception in 1996 and one for forgery in 1997.

Jailing her, Judge Peter Jacobs said: "These offences are very

serious. The playgroup is run by parents and working mothers who make contributions to pay staff, liability insurance and for equipment and they themselves are not well off. They do it for the welfare of their children."

He said Wallbridge had previous offences for dishonesty and added: "This sort of behaviour cannot be tolerated."

Phillip Farr, defending, said: "She knew she would get caught. They were small amounts which she used for living expenses for herself and her children.

"There was no lavish lifestyle. It came out of desperation rather then greed."

He said she had written cheques to the playgroup to try to pay

money back but had to cancel them as she could not come up with the cash.

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