South East Wales

Worker's reprimand for paying school cash to drug dealer

Caroline Hannigan Image copyright Wales News Service

A teaching assistant who stole charity money raised at her school to pay her son's drug debt has been reprimanded.

Caroline Hannigan raised £287 for British Heart Foundation at Glanhowy Primary School in Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent, but failed to pass the money on.

She admitted unacceptable misconduct at a fitness to practise hearing in Cardiff.

Mrs Hannigan, who has since left Glanhowy Primary, will be able to continue working in schools.

She used the money raised at a cross-country running event in February 2015 to pay drug dealers who threatened to hurt her son if she did not pay £500 towards a £1,000 debt.

Mrs Hannigan, who worked at the school in various roles for 23 years, previously told the hearing she was "deeply remorseful".

She was arrested after admitting to her head teacher that she had not passed on the money to charity.

She told the hearing she missed the bank and took the money home intending to pay it in the following day.

Image copyright Google

But that night, two men came knocking on her door demanding money owed by her son, who was living with her.

Mrs Hannigan gave them the charity money and promised to pay the rest at the end of the month.

David Harris, representing Mrs Hannigan, said she "accepted wrongdoing" and understood her conduct "fell below the acceptable standards by someone in the teaching profession".

"It was an isolated lapse and not deliberate," he added.

Committee chairwoman Jacquie Turnbull said a disciplinary order was "necessary to maintain confidence" in the teaching profession.

But, she added: "The committee accepts Mrs Hannigan's actions were not pre-planned and [were] provoked by threats by drug dealers to herself, her son and her property."

Mrs Hannigan was previously given a 12-month conditional discharge at Caerphilly Magistrates' Court and has since repaid the money to British Heart Foundation.

The reprimand will remain on her record for two years.

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