03/24/2012 : ONLINE POKER PLAYING HEADMASTER JAILED FOR THEFT
41-year-old respected educationist blew his savings, his mortgage and his job
A 41-year-old headmaster has been jailed for 16 months by the Mold Crown Court in Chester for stealing GBP 53,000 of school funds which he lost in early morning online poker games.
That was not all he blew – his family’s GBP 90,000 savings, then GBP 70,000 he raised by re-mortgaging the family home without his wife knowing, were also lost before he plundered funds at the school he had worked at for 17 years. The funds were intended to extend the school hall.
The court heard how father of three Andrew Thomas Wilkie became depressed when he was suspended following an allegation of a sexual nature by a pupil. No action was taken on the incident, but it reportedly left Wilkie depressed, and he started playing online poker, often in the early hours of the morning.
Wilkie's fraud was uncovered when two anonymous letters were received by the Flintshire Local Education Authority, which told Wilkie that an emergency audit of the school fund would take place. Wilkie cleared his desk and departed, later admitting his wrongdoing to the chairman of the school governors.
In court this week, Wilkie admitted before Judge Merfyn Hughes QC to two theft charges, and asked for eight similar charges to be taken into consideration
Sentencing Wilkie, the judge characterised the case as sad but serious, and advised that he had taken into account the Wilkie family's personal losses, and the destruction of Wilkie's career and reputation.
A specialist financial investigation will now take place under the Proceeds of Crime Act to see how much of the money can be recovered.
The defendant conceded through his barrister that since being charged he had transfered all interest in the family home to his wife.