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Church of England school had £47,000 stolen by secretary

A school secretary has admitted taking £47,367 from a small Church of England school over the course of seven years. 

Sharon Dickinson, 50, took dinner money, cash raised from charity events and funds intended for textbooks to spend on her own shopping sprees online. 

The secretary, who worked at St Michael's Church of England School in Bishop Middleham, pleaded guilty at Durham Crown Court this week. 

She will be sentenced next month after using the school's company card on Amazon and ebay between 2010 and 2017. 

Dickinson was a co-signatory on a school cheque book, alongside head teacher Lynsey Vollans, who has now testified against her. 

At the time, she was suspended when suspicions arose and then quit. 

She initially denied the allegations but changed her plea the following day. 

Judge Jonathan Caroll said: "She's a lady of good character with no previous convictions, and I have to do justice to the case for both the prosecution and defence.

"The sentencing guidelines indicate the custody threshold is crossed with a length of up to two years, but I'll consider whether that can be suspended with other alternatives like unpaid work."

He told her: "I don't want you to be unrealistic. All sentencing options remain open, up to and including custody.

"You should make your plans at least on the possibility that you might be facing a custodial sentence."

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