Louth

Playgroup manager stole £35k to pay for shoes, handbags and rare Disney figures

The manager of a playgroup took £35,000 from the organisation’s funds, Lincoln Crown Court heard.

Julie Sharp, manager of the North Somercotes playgroup, took the cash over a two-year-period using some of it to pay for shoes, handbags and clothes.

Joey Kwong, prosecuting, told the court that Sharp paid herself wages she was not entitled to and paid herself at a higher wage rate than had been agreed.

Sharp, who was responsible for paying staff wages, also overpaid her daughter when she worked for the group.

Mr Kwong said: “Staff noticed her lifestyle becoming luxurious.

“She was collecting rare editions of Disney figures.

“Clothing, shoes and handbags were bought.

“She justified it by saying she had sold gold and received PPI payments.”

Mr Kwong said matters came to light following complaints made by members of staff to the group’s new chair.

Sharp later handed in her notice.

Mr Kwong said the loss of the money caused financial difficulties for the playgroup.

Sharp, 49, of East Row, South Somercotes, admitted a charge of furnishing false information on dates between April 2014 and March 2016.

Judge Simon Hirst adjourned sentence for a hearing to determine a disputed prosecution claim that the effect of Sharp taking the money was that a child with autism did not receive the one-to-one assistance that had been funded by Lincolnshire County Council.

Hannah Walker, for Sharp, said: “She strongly disputes that she did not provide the one-to-one tuition for this child. She says the tuition was provided.”

Miss Walker said that Sharp got into financial difficulties after taking out pay day loans to pay off her son’s drug debts.

She told the court that Sharp accepted an element of funding a lavish lifestyle from her offence but had initially used the loan money to pay for clothes, shoes and handbags.

Sharp was granted bail to await the trial of issue which is scheduled to take place in July.