Cumbria

Woman who stole £51k from Carlisle nursery sentenced

Christine Rowley Image copyright Craig McGlasson
Image caption A judge described Rowley's behaviour as "dishonest, thoughtless and selfish"

A woman who stole almost £52,000 from a nursery has been sentenced.

Christine Rowley, 42, forged cheques and falsified bank statements while working as an administrator at First Friends Nursery in Carlisle between January 2012 and April 2017.

Carlisle Crown Court heard the nursery's charitable status had been withdrawn and its future was in doubt.

Rowley, of Fletchertown, had previously admitted one theft and four fraud charges.

Judge Peter Davies gave her a two-year jail term suspended for two years and described her actions as "dishonest, thoughtless and selfish".

Rowley said she had spent all the stolen cash on "daily living" and was "genuinely remorseful".

The court heard she had been "highly trusted" by staff at the nursery.

'Devastating impact'

Committee members were oblivious to Rowley's criminal conduct because she redirected critical mail to her own address, the court was told.

In a victim impact statement, Claire Howe from First Friends said Rowley's stealing had had a "devastating" impact.

Ms Howe said staff had faced uncertainty over jobs and wages and some parents had withdrawn their children amid rumours over the nursery's future.

The court heard all of the stolen £51,359.98 had been returned with help from Rowley's family.

Judge Davies told her: "It is only by the skin of your teeth that you have avoided prison."

Rowley, of previous good character, was also told to complete 300 hours of unpaid work.

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