Treasurer stole £17,000 from Knodishall playgroup in Suffolk

Gemma Pearse was treasurer of Knodishall Playgroup in Suffolk. Credit: PA

A woman stole £17,000 from a playgroup, where she had been entrusted to manage the money.

Gemma Pearse, 33, stole the money while she was treasurer of Knodishall Playgroup in Suffolk from 2017 to 2022.

She resigned in February 2022, but was later found out and arrested in May.

Another member had scrutinised the playgroup's finances and found poor book-keeping and unclear information about whether money had been properly banked.

Accounts had also been falsified.

At the time, other members had been unhappy about her performance, her lack of attendance at meetings, and her presentation of reports without actual figures, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Pearse, who had lived in Waterloo Avenue in Leiston, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by abuse of position.

She was given a suspended 16-month sentence, and will have to complete 200 hours of unpaid community work.

Suffolk Constabulary's Investigating Officer DC Ed Vincent said: “Pearse has shown remorse through her early guilty plea.

"However, this does not take away the fact her selfish actions caused widespread distress and anxiety for the playgroup management and the parents and carers of children who attend the playgroup.

“Over the course of four years, the monies taken by Pearse could have been put to good use improving the venue and updating equipment that was used there, benefiting the community and enriching the time that the children could have spent there.”

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