Cambridgeshire

Sawtry school ex-principal admits £100k fraud

James Stewart Image copyright Cambs Police
Image caption James Stewart spent thousands of pounds furnishing his suite of offices, which contained sex toys and condoms

A former school principal who kept sex toys in his office has been jailed for four years for misconduct and fraud.

James Stewart, 72, executive principal at Sawtry Village Academy until 2014, showed greed that was an "abuse of his high position of trust", a judge said.

Stewart, of Kimbolton Road, Bedford, admitted four counts of fraud and one of misconduct in a public office.

Huntingdon Law Courts heard he spent thousands furnishing his offices, where sex toys and condoms were found.

The charges, which also included two of aiding and abetting his vice-principal Alan Stevens to commit fraud, relate to a period from 2009 to 2014.

Stewart left the college after a Department for Education investigation was launched into the running of the school.

Charles Myatt, prosecuting, said his "greed and abuse of the system" led him to claim more than £85,000 from the school to pay off debts on personal credit cards.

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Media captionPolice have released footage of the head teacher's office

The defendant would lock himself in his offices, where he had a private phone line installed to place bets with bookmaker William Hill, and watch horse racing on TV, the court heard.

He also claimed a total of £6,000 in expenses to cover household bills.

Peter Leeton, chairman of governors at the time, told investigators Stewart was "very persuasive" and someone he "greatly trusted".

He admitted that perhaps he "didn't probe or have enough of an inquiring mind" about his behaviour.

School staff described the defendant as a "racist, sexist and fattest bully", the court heard. He was "autocratic" and his poor attendance "became a running joke".

Image copyright Google

Mr Stewart's suite of offices was "much better furnished than the rest of the school, which was in need of repair and decoration", the court heard.

One contractor, who looked inside the offices, said he saw sex toys, condoms and lubricant.

Inspectors also found condoms, loose change and blank expense forms when they opened up drawers.

Sentencing, Judge Stuart Bridge said: "By all accounts, this was a serious fraud by abuse of position by a person who was in a high position of trust and it was a fraud that was committed over a significant period of time."

Stevens, 64 and of Sapperton near Peterborough, admitted two fraud charges, totalling £364.59 over the same period.

He was given a 24-week suspended sentence and ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work

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