A woman has been spared jail despite stealing nearly £56,000 while working as a school treasurer.
Susan McDiarmid, 52, of Ashton-under-Lyne, was given a two-year suspended jail term after she entered a guilty plea to five counts of fraud and one count of theft.
The court heard that bursar Mrs McDiarmid felt 'undervalued' by her bosses, prompting her to steal thousands of pounds from schools across Tameside.
Using cheques and school credit cards, Mrs McDiarmid siphoned off the money between 2006 and 2011. She also used the schools' accounts to buy electrical equipment for herself.
She was eventually caught out when council chiefs carried out an audit after she left her job in 2011.
The auditors found the former treasurer had cashed 14 fraudulent cheques by forging the signatures of colleagues and by convincing one of the school's head teachers, Lesley, Ironmonger, to sign blank cheques, excusing it as being more 'efficient' for transactions undertaken during school holidays.
The court was told that Mrs McDiarmid had worked for Tameside council for more than 20 years, and had carried out the crimes to seek a 'better life for her family'. It was revealed she went on spending sprees at Argos and other high street stores with the money.
The Manchester Evening News reports that when she was arrested she confessed immediately. Initially she said she had taken the money to pay off her son's debts but she later said she had stolen out of 'revenge' against school chiefs.
Lisa Bocock for the prosecution told the court: "She accepted she felt undervalued in the school system and felt she had been taken advantage of by Mrs Ironmonger. She said she'd done it because she wanted revenge on those who had misused her."
Mrs McDiarmid's lawyer Ian Ridgeway, said: "She was paying off her son's debts and wanted a better life for her family. She admitted everything to police before the full extent was uncovered."
Judge Maurice Greene sentenced Mrs McDiarmid to two years in prison suspended for two years, and told her: "These are very serious matters in which you used the high degree of trust placed in you to take this money. The fact you were entrusted with cheque books, credit cards and bank money shows you could not have had a greater position of responsibility."
"However, I do have to take into account you pleaded guilty at the earliest possible opportunity and you have showed genuine remorse," he added.
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