School suspends mother who stole community cash

A RECOVERING drug addict, who pocketed thousands from community groups, has been suspended by her school employers on full pay and will have nearly 10 years to pay back the money.

Charlene Miles stole cash belonging to Oldmixon Parents Group (OPG) and Young and Oldmixon Unite (YOU).

On Thursday she was handed a suspended sentence at North Somerset Courthouse, after pleading guilty to two counts of fraud last month.

Miles was appointed treasurer of the OPG in 2008 and stole �1,185 which was left in its account when it folded and merged with YOU in 2010.

When she became treasurer of the second group, she made two false grant applications worth �5,000 to Quartet Community Foundation.

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But rather than replacing the initial money taken, Jane Cooper, prosecuting, said Miles used the money for herself and her family.

The court was told Miles was caught after a fellow group member went to the bank and found the account to be empty.

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Miles, of Dunster Crescent, Oldmixon, admitted two counts of fraud when appearing before magistrates on October 29 and asked for further fraud and theft offences to be taken into account.

On Thursday she told the court she has been suspended from her job as a lunchtime supervisor at Uphill Primary School on full pay.

David Bird, defending, said he hoped the school would reinstate a ‘remorseful’ Miles.

He said Miles applied for the grants to replace the money she originally stole, but kept it for herself given her own financial problems and issues in her personal life.

He also contradicted previous evidence read in court, by stating Miles was not taking heroin at the time of the offence.

The court was told Miles stopped taking drugs eight years ago and is close to finishing a seven-year methadone course to help her get over the addiction she has had since she was 15.

Walter Lewis, chair of the bench, decided against sending her to prison.

Miles was given two concurrent 12-week prison sentences, suspended for 18 months for each of the fraud charges she pleaded guilty to.

She was also given an 18-month supervision order, a four-month night-time curfew and told to pay back the �5,000.

Magistrates ordered her to pay the money back at �20 per fortnight.

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