Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Parish Clerk Jailed for Cash Deception

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Parish Clerk Jailed for Cash Deception

Article excerpt

A parish clerk regarded as a pillar of the community has been jailed for plundering more than pounds 14,000 from the council where she was a trusted official.

School governor Jennifer Dodds was employed as a pounds 100-a-week part-time clerk at Pegswood Parish Council in Northumberland.

The mother-of-two cared for her young children and her elderly mother alone and was well-liked and respected in the village where she was also secretary of the local sports club.

But over a two-year period she repeatedly diverted council cheques into her own bank account, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Dodds, who was to claim she had been struggling financially after losing her previous well-paid job, continued the fraud even after an auditor became involved.

The 44-year-old, who put some of the money towards a new Vauxhall car, was finally arrested after repeatedly failing to hand over financial documents to officials.

In police interviews she pretended missing funds had been paid over in cash to community organisations with the knowledge of the council ( which had an income of only pounds 16,000 a year.

She admitted no dishonesty at the time and it was only on the day she was to stand trial last month she finally accepted stealing the money. Most of the cash she pocketed should have gone to help young people and charities.

Dodds, of Chevington Close, Pegswood, admitted six charges of obtaining a money transfer by deception between April 200 and August 2002.

Jailing her for nine months yesterday, Judge Maurice Carr said he took into account her guilty pleas, the good work she had done within the community and her previous good character.

But he told her: "You know as well as I do, you were in a position of trust as clerk of the parish council and that over a period of time and even apparently after the auditor became involved, you took for your own benefit substantial sums of money which totalled in all pounds 14,680. …

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