Jailed: Fraudster who stole £31k from daughter’s Hornchurch primary school while head of parents’ association
PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 April 2018 | UPDATED: 14:24 04 April 2018
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A mum who stole more than £31,000 from her daughter’s Hornchurch primary school while out on bail for other fraud offences was sentenced to a further 6 months in prison.
Snaresbrook Crown Court heard yesterday (April 3) how Chasjit Verma, formerly of Barley Lane, Goodmayes, defrauded Hacton Primary School Parents’ Association (HPSPA) of £31,382.68.
Chairwoman of the HPSPA for seven years, Verma withdrew the association’s money into her own coffers under the pretence of making cash and cheque payments to legitimate organisations between February 28 2016 and February 2 2017.
She did this while she was under investigation for siphoning more than £900,000 in funds from her former employer, Jubilee Hall Trust, into her own bank account, for which she was eventually found guilty and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment.
Verma pleaded guilty to the £31,000 fraud at Snaresbrook Crown Court on March 15, after initially pleading not guilty at Barkingside Magistrates’ Court hearing on February 8.
Explaining the manner in which Verma siphoned the money from HPSPA, prosecutor Deepak Kapur said: “The defendant made out cheques and payments to various people.
“But what she really did was cash the cheques and make false entries as to who moneys had been paid.”
“This continued as the sole form of cheque signing processes that were in place [at HSPSA] were based were purely based on trust.”
On 29 January 2016, Verma was arrested on suspicion of siphoning funds from bank account of the Jubilee Hall Trust’s into her own Barclays account whilst working as an employee between 2008 and 2015.
She was convicted of two counts of fraud at Southwark Crown Court and jailed for six years in January.
She was also convicted of fraudulently transferring an additional £20,817.50 from Trust accounts into a NatWest one owned by her husband.
Her husband Sanjay Verma, of Marks Road, Romford, admitted money laundering and was handed a 49-week prison sentence, suspended for two years.
The pair used this money to fund a luxury lifestyle including a £14,000 trip to Cancun, Michael Buble tickets and a new Mercedes Benz.
At the April 3 sentencing, Mr Kapur added: “It seems quite clear that, funding her lifestyle having come to and end, she maintained this series of offending.”
HPSPA, which consists of 20 parents, raises funds to be spent on the school, in Chepstow Avenue, in Hornchurch.
The association raise funds through holding “discotheques” and had planned to spend thei money on a swimming pool.
This plan “had to be put into abeyance,” according to Mr Kapur.
Judge Sheelagh Canavan handed Verma a six month sentence to be served on top of her six-year jail term.
Verma was also ordered to pay £80 victim surcharge.
Handing down the sentence, Judge Canavan said: “You are a 39-year-old woman who, to all intents and purposes was a perfectly respectable person.”
“Closer inspection reveals that this was a veneer over dishonest behaviour by you.”
“That started with your employment by Jubilee Hall trust, helping yourself to more than £880,00 of your emloyers’ money.”
A consecutive sentence was imposed by the Judge, as the £31k fraud took place while Verma was on bail.
But the judge reduced the sentence from a potential three years to only 6 months in consideration Verma’s relatively young age, her early guilty plea and length of the sentence she is currently serving.
Judge Canavan added: “The real victims are the children of the school, one of whom was your daughter.”
Defending Verma, Mr Gordon Carse said: “She started down a course and found it hard to extract herself from it.”
“She left school with some quite good qualifications.
“She progressed through her life without turning to criminality at all.
“Her marriage started breaking down and may have had an impact on her - she obviously lost custody of her child.
“She finds it hard to explain how she got down this path.”
He also added that since being jailed she had begun teaching other inmates English and mathematics.