A ‘greedy and dishonest’ youth worker systematically stole more than £6,000 from the youth club she ran after it had been awarded a grant to pay for improvements.
And when she was caught, lying Teresa Taylor tried to put the blame on an innocent trustee of the youth club – which a judge at Warwick Crown Court heard has since closed down.
Taylor (38) of Prentice Close, Rugby, had denied stealing from the Folly Youth Club in Long Lawford, near Rugby – but was convicted after a trial last month.
But following an adjournment for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on her, she was saved from going to jail only for the sake of her own young daughter.
Instead Taylor, who had helped set up the club in 2012, was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for two years and ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work.
The court heard she ran the Folly, which stands for Focus on Long Lawford Youth, with two other women, and in 2015 they obtained a Development Fund grant for £10,000 for improvements to the building an running costs.
She called on the assistance of William Clemmy from the Warwickshire Association of Youth Clubs, and he got Methodist minister Rev Clive Fowle involved, as co-trustees.
But in the space of seven months between October 2015 and April the following year, Taylor stole a total of £6,438.85
She did so by making regular cash withdrawals from the Folly account for sums of between £100 and £500 at a time, as well as making direct debit payments from it for her car tax.
Observing that the club has since failed, Deputy Judge Richard Griffith-Jones asked: “To what extent is it attributable to her theft in gross breach of trust?”
Prosecutor Ian Windridge said the club building had not been in good condition, and commented: “Whether it would have failed anyway may be a moot point.
“I don’t think her actions would have precipitated its failure, but they affected its ability to function, because it didn’t have the funds it should have had.
“It is a breach of a high degree of trust, and her defence was blaming a wholly innocent trustee of the club.”
Of Taylor’s attempts during her trial to put the blame on Mr Clemmy, the judge said that in relation to sentencing, it may leave her with no credit, but could not make her position worse.
Sarah Holland, defending, submitted: “Clearly she was convicted after a trial, and is not entitled to any credit, but it is a sentence which is capable of being suspended.”
She pointed out Taylor had just one previous conviction, which was for a shop theft in 2004, and has lost her job as a youth worker as a result of the latest conviction.
Miss Holland said a custodial sentence would have an effect on Taylor’s young daughter, ‘who has been brought up almost exclusively by her,’ and was not aware of the proceedings.
She added that there had been a long delay in the case – but Judge Griffith-Jones responded: “It’s all self-inflicted by her lies and attribution of guilt to a completely innocent man.
“She is greedy and dishonest. She perhaps thought she deserved this money for the effort she was putting in, and was going to help herself to it.”
Sentencing Taylor, he told her: “I have indicated already how I much abhor the despicable way in which you conducted your defence. It leaves you with not a shred of credit.
“Nor do I take into account the delay, which is all your fault. You lied. You, for reasons of greed and dishonesty in a position of trust, stole money which should have gone for the benefit of the local youth.
“I cannot be sure your dishonesty actively precipitated the end of that club, but I am sure it was a heavy blow to a club that needed investment.
“The residents of Long Lawford needed a club like that. There was a problem with the youth there, and it was helping.
“It is a bitter irony for me as a judge, and for the public, that your disservice to the local youth is linked to the best piece of mitigation, your daughter.
“It is her youth which means I am not going to pass an immediate sentence. If it was not for that, you would have gone down those stairs for 12 months.”