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Trusted staff member and governor stole £100,000-worth of toner from school

Wayne David Raymond Collins

A trusted staff member and governor who stole more than £100,000 worth of printer toner while working at a West Cumbria secondary school has been spared immediate prison.

Wayne David Raymond Collins, 34, was in the grip of a gambling addiction as he pinched from St Benedict’s, in Whitehaven, while employed as a campus operations manager.

Collins was responsible for ordering printer toner for the school.

But Cumbria police were alerted by their Devon and Cornwall counterparts that he had been receiving large amounts of money by selling the toner.

It emerged Collins had ordered it, using school funds, before passing it on to others and receiving payments online.

The precise total value of his crime was unknown, but Carlisle Crown Court was told today  by the prosecution that between January 2013, and February 2019, he had profited to the tune of £117,994.

When interviewed by police, Collins – whose employment was terminated – initially denied the offence but then confessed and had since repaid £35,000.

He insisted his theft amounted to around £108,000.

“He explained that he had a gambling addiction which had consumed him,” prosecutor Alaric Walmsley told the court.

Mary Lowrey, business director and designated safeguard lead at St Benedict’s school, said Collins had been a “well liked and trusted” member of the senior staffing team, and a governor for four years.

He had been party to detailed discussions including the difficulties of meeting staffing requirements with a deficit budget, and the increase in cost in toners.

“Wayne has not only abused the position of trust he has been in, but he has stolen from the school and from the hard-working children that attend,” stated Mrs Lowrey.

“He has put staff under increased pressure by not having printing available for them.

Over the years, staff have complained bitterly that there has not been enough toner available, and this has certainly added stress to the already stressful job that our teachers have.”

She added: “I am angry that a person can be so deceptive and has so little conscience that he could do this.

“I have found it so increasingly difficult to be able to hold him to account that he has been able to continue with this dishonest act for so long.”

Collins, of Blake Close, Whitehaven, admitted theft by employee, and was said to be remorseful and to “bitterly” regret his wrongdoing.

He was told by the judge, Recorder Eric Lamb: “There is breach of a high degree of trust.”

“There can be no better demonstration of wider impact of a theft than that given by Mrs Lowrey,” Recorder Lamb added, “discussing the conditions within the school because of the lack of toner – toner which you, as a trusted officer of the school, had stolen.”

After hearing of Collins’ previous good character, his wife and infant child, and concluding that there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation, the judge suspended a two-year jail term for two years.