Woman avoids jail over Ceara offences

Pacemaker Press 4/11/10 Ceara School in Lurgan , a special school for children with severe learning disabilities',   Where a 8 year old  child attended ,  who was diagnosed with swine flu just over a week ago has died,Twenty people from Northern Ireland died in last year's swine flu outbreak, including a number of children with severe learning difficulties Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker '''
Pacemaker Press 4/11/10 Ceara School in Lurgan , a special school for children with severe learning disabilities', Where a 8 year old child attended , who was diagnosed with swine flu just over a week ago has died,Twenty people from Northern Ireland died in last year's swine flu outbreak, including a number of children with severe learning difficulties Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker '''

After organising fundraising events for a school for children with special needs a Portadown woman “dipped into the money bit by bit”, Craigavon Magistrates Court heard last Friday.

But the judge said while it was a breach of trust matter which normally attracted a custodial sentence this was a “wholly exceptional case” and imposed probation.

Sandra Salt (50), Drumannon Park, Portadown, admitted that between November 22, 2014, and April 16, 2015, she stole cash to the value of £1,210 belonging to Ceara School.

She also pleaded guilty that between November 13, 2014, and April 17, 2015, she dishonestly made false representation that she held charity events to make a gain for herself at a loss to Ceara school.

For each offence she was sentenced to six months on probation.

She was also ordered to pay £1,210 in compensation to Ceara School in Lurgan.

The case had been adjourned from a previous court so that a pre-sentence report could be obtained.

The court heard that on November 22, 2014, the defendant organised a fund raising event to buy her daughter a special trike.

The event, along with a coffee morning, was advertised on Facebook and over £1,200 was raised.

Over the following months the school tried to contact the defendant by phone and letter but there was no reply from her.

On April 16 this year the school principal contacted police and when they called with Salt she said the money was in the bank accruing interest.

Later she told police she had spent the money but would borrow it the next day and give it to the school but the school said they no longer wanted the money.

When interviewed by police Salt admitted dipping into the money bit by bit but it was always her intention to pay it back.

District Judge, Mr Mervyn Bates, said that to be fair to the defendant she had instigated the organisation of the event along with others to raise this money for her daughter and the school.

A barrister representing the defendant said she set out to meet her daughter’s needs and the rest of the money was to go to the school.

He added that she “took the matter on the chin” when police came to her door and the next day she got the money which she gave to her brother to keep for her.

He also outlined health difficulties his client had to deal with in her life as far as her family was concerned.

District Judge, Mr Mervyn Bates, said this was clearly a breach of trust case which would normally attract a custodial sentence.

But he regarded this was a “wholly exceptional” case because it was Salt who had instigated this to raise money for her daughter with the excess going to the school and she raised £1,200.

The judge said that a custodial sentence was not appropriate and imposed the community service order and compensation.

“It is a wholly exceptional case,” he added.

He also added that he hoped the school would accept the money and use it for the benefit of the students.