Civil service pension pot to be used to pay as compensation

A FORMER school secretary convicted for long-term thefts from the village primary where she worked, is to pay back just under £7,000 as crime proceeds.

But that is more than £46,000 less that what Sharon Dickinson stole and defrauded from St Michael’s Church of England School, in Bishop Middleham, County Durham.

A proceeds of crime hearing was told the agreed benefit figure from her illegal activities while working as the school’s financial administrator, was £53,025.61, from 2010 to 2017.

The money was taken in a variety of ways by Dickinson, who Durham Crown Court was told took a very “hands on” approach to overseeing the school’s finances, until it came to light.

Dickinson received an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, at Durham Crown Court, in February.

The now 51-year-old, of Burdon Close, Newton Aycliffe, was also ordered to complete 180-hours’ unpaid work and observe a six-month 8pm to 7am home curfew.

She had previously denied theft and fraud but changed her pleas to guilty on what was to have been the second day of her trial, at the court, in January.

Crime proceeds proceedings then began to see what amount could be confiscated to compensate the education authority, Durham County Council.

An interim hearing was told it was believed the best means of recovering the money was to be from one of two pension pots accrued by Dickinson, during her working life, the bigger of which was a Durham County Council pension held for many years.

But on her return to court for the proceeds of crime settlement hearing, Phillip Morley, for the Crown, clarified the position over the pensions.

“There is just one available pension pot, a civil service pension, of £6,949.20 and so we will invite the court to make a confiscation in that amount, to be made as a compensation order.

“The agreed benefit figures is £53,025.61.

“Paper work submitted to the court has been completed and a default period of up to six months agreed.”

Jonathan Walker, for Dickinson, said: “I can’t add a great deal to what has been said.”

Judge Ray Singh, therefore, confirmed the figures given to the court, and said the entirety of the civil service pension pot should be paid within three months, setting the period in prison, in default, also at three months.

He warned Dickinson that should she come into money in future that could be used to meet the shortfall.

The Northern Echo | Durham