23/09/2014 08:48 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Mum Fined £500 For Lying About Where She Lived To Get Her Daughter A School Place


A mother who lied about where she lived to get her daughter a school place has been fined £500 and sentenced to community service.

It is the first prosecution of what has been described as 'educational tourism'.

Lura Pacheco, 34, forged a tenancy agreement to try to persuade high-performing schools she lived closer than she really did to get a place for her 11-year-old

But the mother-of-two paid the price for her ambition when she was charged with forgery after the property's real owner received an offer.

Havering Council, which brought the prosecution, said the case was the first of its kind and others could follow.

In recent years, the number of suspicious school applications have soared across the country.

Pacheco, who works for an international recruitment company, had been desperate to get her daughter into a secondary school in the London borough of Havering because she believed they had a better reputation than comprehensives nearer her home in Chadwell Heath, Barking and Dagenham.

Barkingside magistrates heard how a friend of Pacheco offered to produce a forged tenancy agreement for a home in Hornchurch, within the Havering borough, using the fake firm Easy Property Services.

The move could have secured a place for her daughter at either Brittons Academy, Chafford School, Frances Bardsley School for Girls, Sacred Heart of Mary Girls School or Bower Park Academy.

But town hall investigators uncovered the forgery when the offer of a place was sent to the property's real owner, who alerted the local authority.

After admitting one forgery offence - committed on December 13 last year – Pacheco was ordered to pay £500 and sentenced to 100 hours of community service.

Presiding magistrate Michael Peacock said: "You are obviously a very good and conscientious mother and like all good mothers you want your kid to go to the best school available.

"I think the public are very aware of the lengths people go to to try and secure that. We hear of people buying expensive houses in expensive streets and so on in order to get into a certain catchment area. But whatever you do it's got to be within the law.

"What you did was dishonest. It was cheating, cheating the system. It was unfair to people who would have wanted that place if you had succeeded."

Giles Morrison, representing Havering council, said: "She wanted her daughter to get into a Havering school as these are generally better and she was aware that at this time her address was covered by Barking and Dagenham.

"It [the offence] is, I am told, something Havering council is very concerned with in the borough and there might be a number of other prosecutions that might happen in the future. But this is thought to be the first of its kind."

After the hearing, Pacheco told the London Evening Standard: "Mums just want the best for their children, they want the best education for them possible. I am still shaken by this experience."

Do you sympathise with this mum? Would you do the same to get your child a place at a good school?

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