Fundraiser stole thousands from school PTA in Brierley Hill

A founding member of a school parent and teachers’ association who pocketed almost £4,000 from fundraising events has narrowly escaped a jail sentence.

Natalie Field deceived PTA members at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Brierley Hill, saying she was planning to bank cash in a high-interest savings account.

The 35-year-old made regular withdrawals of up to £300 from the account using a bank card given to the members.

Dudley Magistrates Court heard she was also given responsibility for banking money from PTA fundraising events such as Easter fairs held at the Mill Street school.

But not all the money was being banked into accounts and Field was taking hundreds of pounds for herself, the magistrates were told yesterday.

Mr Mark Cooper, prosecuting, said Field told police she was struggling financially following the break-up of her relationship and was in fear of losing her home. Field, of Acres Road, Quarry Bank, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to stealing £3,900 from the PTA between December 31 2010 and December 15 2012.

Chairman of the bench, Mr Alan Willietts, told Field: “It is a very serious offence and you could have gone to prison today. You were in a position of trust and we were very concerned about that. I’m sure that the PTA is not happy with what has gone on.”

He sentenced her to a 12-month community order with supervision from the probation service. Field was ordered to pay back the £3,900 in compensation alongside £85 court costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

Mr Cooper said Field had helped establish the new PTA group with the school secretary and a dinner lady at the time. All were given bank cards to use but only Field collected hers to take it home, the court heard.

Mr Gerry Vahey, defending, said: “She is very sorry for what she has done. She has shown remorse for her actions.”