Fraudster who stole from charity preschool ordered to pay back £30k or face jail

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·3-min read
Kerry Goldsmith has been told to pay back more than £30,000 or face jail. (SWNS)
Kerry Goldsmith has been told to pay back more than £30,000 or face jail. (SWNS)

A treasurer who stole tens of thousands of pounds from a charity preschool has been ordered to pay back more than £30,000 or face prison.

Kerry Goldsmith siphoned £38,000 from Owl and Pussycat preschool near Sittingbourne, Kent, over 10 years.

The 50-year-old mother-of-three used fake invoices to cover her tracks and convince colleagues to write blank cheques.

She also stole by using fake invoices for things like gifts, "sing-along" shows and computer repairs as well as Kent County Council demands, tax bills and payments to WeightWatchers, where she worked as a consultant.

Read: Student expelled from Princeton jailed for 18 years for raping two women in London

Goldsmith pleaded guilty to more than 26 fraud charges at Maidstone Crown Court in February. 

However, she escaped a jail sentence and was handed a two-year suspended prison term.

A judge also ordered her to stay at her home between the hours of 9pm and 7am and wear an electronic ankle tag for the following six months.

But she has now been told she has to pay a total of £33,121 compensation to the preschool based in the village of Bapchild.

The money has to be paid within three months and failure to do so will result in a prison sentence of nine months.

A treasurer who conned a charity preschool out of tens of thousands of pounds has been ordered to pay back more than £30,000 or face being jailed.
Goldsmith used fake invoices to cover her tracks and convince colleagues to write blank cheques. (SWNS)

The scam came to light in 2018 when the school's newly appointed chairman found an invoice for a child entertainer at the 2017 Christmas party, which never happened.

An audit was ordered following the discovery, which revealed a "plethora of forged invoices, letters and other documents", the court heard.

Treena Field, one of the charity's committee members, who had been friends with Goldsmith for many years, was also tricked into signing blank cheques so she could pay bills "promptly".

Investigators uncovered paperwork and documents including hundreds of invoices and receipts for expense claims as well as further examples of invoice fraud.

Payments were found to have been made from the school for bogus training courses, as well as computer upgrades which never materialised.

Money had also been spent on expensive gift cards for staff, who did not receive the payment.

The full extent of Goldsmith's offending became clear when the charity's bank statements were checked. 

Read more:
Government insists David Cameron did nothing wrong amid lobbying row
How the UK newspapers reacted to Philip's funeral

As treasurer, she had been allowed to act as a signatory for any cheques issued.

It was discovered that between 2011 and 2018, almost 100 cheques had been written out to herself and a weight loss company she was affiliated with.

Gill McIver, who took over as chairman at the charity, said after the sentencing that the experience was "heartbreaking" and described Goldsmith as "despicable". 

Detective inspector Annie Clayton of Kent Police's Economic Crime Unit said after the confiscation hearing: "Goldsmith was entrusted to look after the financial interests of the school, but instead repeatedly syphoned money by forging invoices, letters and other documents.

"She has profited by inventing and exaggerating costs and expenses of all kinds, effectively taking money which the school could no doubt ill afford to lose.

"This ruling has shown once again how important the Proceeds of Crime Act is, in ensuring that crime doesn't pay.

"On this occasion, the legislation will also ensure that the money can now be used to benefit the children as it was originally intended."

Watch: Criminals could target vaccine supply chains or create fakes, Interpol warns