Former Cranbrook school adminstrator who stole £28,000 from employer won’t have to repay it, court rules

PUBLISHED: 11:55 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:22 08 April 2019

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant


A crooked school administrator who swindled £28,000 from a newly opened academy has been told she does not have to repay the stolen cash.

Ellen Chaplin creamed off the money from the brand new Cranbrook Educational Campus in East Devon after being promoted to a position which gave her access to its banking system.

She generated bogus overpayments which she siphoned into her own bank account by changing the details on invoices from training companies or supply teachers.

Chaplin, who now lives near Gunnislake, received a 20 month suspended sentence in October and was also facing seizure of her assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The application for confiscation was dropped by the prosecution at Exeter Crown Court because a financial investigation showed she has no assets.

Judge David Evans approved the withdrawal of the proceedings after Mr Brian Fitzherbert, prosecuting, said there was no point in continuing in the light of her financial state.

Chaplin, aged 25, of Latchley, near Gunnislake, admitted ten counts of fraud in abuse of a position of trust and was jailed for 20 months, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work and receive 20 days supervision at Exeter Crown Court in October.

A university graduate, Chaplin joined the Cranbrook Educational Campus shortly after it opened in September 2015 as an assistant administrator, but was soon promoted to a senior post in charge of human resources and clerk to the governors.

She used her knowledge of the accounts and payroll systems to create a web of different frauds which netted her £28,414.16 over a year between April 2016 to when she left in 2017.

She was the lead personnel administrator and diverted staff salaries into her own account. She inflated the payments, paid the teachers the lower amounts, and pocketed the difference.

The secondary school, which is run by a charity called the Ted Wragg Multi-Academy Trust, not only lost the money but had to spend another £40,000 to install a fraud-proof payroll system.

The school was run by a charity named after the former professor of education at Exeter University Ted Wragg.

Miss Kelly Scrivener, defending, told the original hearing Chaplin committed the offences while suffering from mental illness and in an abusive relationship in which she was put under pressure to bring in extra money.

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