BY TOBY PORTER
A business manager stole £220,000 from a school which then closed down.
Kirsty Holmes, 45, who worked at Battersea Park School, was arrested coming off a flight at Gatwick – and then blamed her partner Sunday Kalu, 47.
Both were sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison at Kingston Crown Court last Wednesday after being found guilty of theft, following a case which took six years to bring to trial.
Holmes worked at the school – which has since closed and been renamed as the Harris Academy, Battersea – from January 2009-November 2011.
Between May and November 2011, 15 cheques totalling £220,209 were paid out of the school’s account – but the audit for that financial year found there were no corresponding invoices. The suspected theft was reported to police in March 2012.
The cheques, for between £7,500 and £32,000, had been deposited in bank accounts in the Gillingham and Chatham areas of Kent.
The cash was later deposited into the accounts of Holmes and Kalu. All these accounts were emptied by the end of December 2011. The people cashing the cheques were found to be friends of Holmes and Kalu.
Holmes was arrested at Gatwick Airport in December 2014, returning to the UK. Kalu was arrested the following year.
The couple, of Gillingham, Kent, both denied knowledge of the theft and blamed each other.
Detective Sergeant Donnett Oseni, who led the investigation, said: “This was a very difficult case that took more than six years to bring to trial, with most witnesses reluctant to give evidence.
“Holmes abused a position of trust by stealing school funds – taxpayers’ money that was intended for the running of the school and the education of the students.
“The jail sentence handed down reflects the seriousness of the offence. “I hope this case sends out the message that we will pursue prosecutions, even when years pass and the suspect thinks they have evaded authorities.”
Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings will follow.