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Catholic principal jailed after spending spree with school funds

A Catholic headteacher who stole $A1,216,517 from her South London school to fund a lavish lifestyle has been jailed for five years.

51 year old former nun Colleen McCabe was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court yesterday after being convicted of 11 sample counts of theft and six of deception.

The court heard that St John Rigby College in West Wickham, suffered one financial crisis after another while McCabe stole the money to pay for luxury goods and holidays.

Judge Christopher Elwen told McCabe: "Depriving as you did the children under your care of funds intended to be spent for their education and welfare was a gross breach of trust.

Judge Elwen took into account the fact that McCabe was suffering from a depressive illness and had a number of medical problems. But he rejected defence pleas for a suspended sentence and said she had shown "no hint of remorse" for what she had done and the damage she had caused.

McCabe spent $A17,032 on shoes alone as well as massive amounts on holidays, furniture, designer clothes, electrical goods, jewellery, nights out, and gifts.

The head teacher was caught when the grant-maintained school returned to the control of the London Borough of Bromley in November 1999 and council auditors were sent in.

In a statement yesterday, the Archdiocese of Southwark said: "It is highly regrettable that Colleen McCabe abused her position at the school, committing acts of dishonesty between 1995 and 1999."

Independent Catholic News

St John Rigby College
Archdiocese of Southwark
"Imelda Marcos" headteacher jailed (Evening Standard)
Ex-nun principal jailed for defrauding school (Independent)
Spending spree head arrested (BBC)

2 Sep 2003