South East Wales

Head Sian Harkin admits fraud, theft and forgery

Sian Harkin Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Sian Harkin forged cheques from Llwyncelyn Primary School to give to a cowboy builder

A head teacher who tried to defraud her school of £30,000 to help a builder working on her house has been jailed for a year.

Sian Harkin, 54, used cheques from Llwyncelyn Infant School claiming the money was for a shelter for pupils' parents.

Merthyr Crown Court heard she gave them to Lee Slocombe, a convicted fraudster who had manipulated her.

Harkin, of Pontypridd, admitted fraud, theft and forgery charges.

The court heard that the teacher had fallen under the "spell" of the conman - who has since been jailed - and that she had believed his "sob stories".

Marion Lewis, defending, told the court that the head teacher was "devastated" and "thoroughly ashamed" of what she had done.

Prosecuting, Rachel Knight said: "She took it upon herself to dip into school funds. She abused her position of trust.

"She had significant financial responsibility but defrauded the school and thereby the community."

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Harkin was said to have fallen under the spell of fraudster Lee Slocombe

When questioned, Harkin said the money was to build a rain shelter for waiting parents - but the work was never ratified by governors.

On one occasion she forged the deputy head's name in order to cash a cheque, the hearing was told.

CCTV footage showed her cashing a cheque for £3,200 in a bank after forging the signature of her colleague.

Marion Lewis, defending, said: "The effects of her wrongdoing have been devastating. A successful career that she dearly loved has been destroyed. She is thoroughly ashamed.

"She knows the effect her actions have had on the school and deeply regrets them."

Jailing her for a year, Judge Richard Twomlow said: "You were so under his (Slocombe's) influence that you were prepared to do things you should not have to assist him."

Speaking after the case, her husband Anthony, a bank manager, said: "I want to stress that every penny of the money spent on our house came from my pocket and not from the school's funds.

"I am a bank manager and have proved to police that each pound and penny was met by us.

"What Slocombe did with the money from the school is a mystery. He is very plausible and a convicted fraudster.

He said his wife had given Slocombe the money to build a shelter at the school.

"We feel very let down by Slocombe over the two-and-a-bit years he worked with us," he added.

"He has conned many, many people out of thousands of pounds. We trusted him as did many other people and were bitterly let down."

Lee Slocombe was jailed in February for 43 months after defrauding customers of £43,000.