Mansfield pre-school demanding former chairman pay back £11,000 he stole

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‘We want every penny back.’

That is the demands of a children’s charity to its former trustee chairman who stole £11,000 from their coffers.

Craig Wallace (38) was handed an eight-month suspended jail term at Nottingham Crown Court after admitting siphoning the cash off from Little Acorns Pre-school, a registered charity, on Nottingham Road over a 16-month period while he served as the chairman.

The callous crime came to light when the new chairman, Nick McDonald, began looking closely at the accounts.

But following the case at Nottingham Crown Court, in which Wallace also received 100 hours community service, a four-month curfew order and was told to pay back just £2,000 of the money he took, Mr McDonald said the pre-school board of trustees are now taking steps in a bid to recover the rest of the cash.

Speaking to the Chad, Mr McDonald said: “We are very pleased that he pleaded guilty and this has been brought to an end, but we are disappointed by the soft sentence because our main goal was to recover the funds.

“He has taken money from a children’s charity - what sort of person does that?

“We are taking advice and we intend to take civil action against him- it’s such a shame we have to go through the court, but we want every penny back.”

His crimes were not detected until Wallace had left his position as chairman and it became obvious the registered charity was struggling financially.

Accounts had not been submitted and verified during his term, and Wallace had told his successor, Mr McDonald, that he was struggling to complete them because all paperwork had been lost in a flood in his garage.

Mr McDonald admitted he ‘smelt a rat’ and began digging around the charity’s finances.

He eventually found that between September 2009 and January 2011, Wallace had written 14 cheques, ranging from £215 to £3,678, out to himself from the pre-school’s account.

Prior to his appointment, the charity had always made a profit, but was left in the red by Wallace’s fraudulent activity.

“He was in it to rip a children’s charity off and left us in a mess,” added Mr McDonald.

“The staff did not have a pay rise for four years, and there was no investment of any description or replacement toys for the kids.

“It’s a lovely nursery with fantastic staff and children, but we were in a really poor situation and we thought we might have to close because we were losing money and could not found out why.”

He said that Little Acorns was once again a thriving business making a profit, and had invested more than £20,000 in the last two years, including £4,000 on new toys.