PTA chairwoman who stole £35k of school fundraising money spared jail thanks to son's GCSEs

Sally Connolly was sentenced to two years in prison suspended for two years after she paid back £20,000 of missing money.

Rachael Pells
Education Correspondent
Friday 09 June 2017 15:27 BST
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Sally Connolly acted as PTA chair at St Catherine’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Didsbury, Greater Manchester.
Sally Connolly acted as PTA chair at St Catherine’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Didsbury, Greater Manchester. (Google)

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A Parent Teacher Association boss who stole £35,000 of school fete money has been spared jail so as not to disrupt her son’s GCSE exams.

Sally Connolly, 43, acted as PTA chair at St Catherine’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Didsbury, Greater Manchester.

A mother of two, Connolly took the fundraised money from school fetes and afternoon teas in order to pay off her credit card bills

Parents were tricked into signing blank cheques, which she cashed into her husband and mother’s bank accounts, a court heard.

An inquiry was launched after it was revealed that cash was missing from the school’s PTA account, and Connolly confessed to the head teacher she had taken the money.

Some PTA cheques sent – including £1,500 raised for a charity - had bounced before the theft was discovered.

Parents at the school said they felt 'sickened' and 'betrayed' by Connolly, but Judge Angela Nield said there was “little public benefit” to gain from her imprisonment.

Justice Nield said: “The main people to suffer would be your family, your parents who don't enjoy the best of health and your children, particularly your son who would lose the support and comfort of his mother during what will be a very important GCSE year.”

Appearing at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester, Connolly was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years after she paid back £20,000 of missing money.

Prosecuting, Miss Lisa Boockcock had described her as a popular and respected at the school.

“Until September 2014 all those around Mrs Connolly thought very highly of her, nothing she had done suggested that her conduct was anything other than entirely proper. She seems to be been a very well-liked person amongst parents and teachers.”

In a statement, Gillian Rennison, who took over as PTA chairwoman from Connolly, said: 'It's so sad the children at the school and those left will not have the benefit from the money raised.

“This includes £19,000 raised by the PTA - before she took over - due to hard work and generosity.”

Headmistress, Janina Chwastek added: “St Catherine's is based on love, respect and compassion. Honesty is at the centre of our message, this is something our children know and understand and they look towards the adults. There's a breakdown of trust and confidence in St Catherine's.”

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