A CWMBRAN man has been convicted of fraud, after a judge deemed his attempt to pay himself £3,000 through a Chepstow high school, a “desperate and dishonest act”.
Collin Gingell, of Oakland View, Greenmeadow, Cwmbran was charged with fraud by abuse of position, that on March 19, 2013, as schools’ improvement monitoring officer he dishonestly abused his role to make a gain of £3,000. Gingell, 40, who appeared at Newport Magistrates court on Thursday, pleaded not guilty.
The 40-year-old was Working for the Education Achievement Service, he in an administrative role, facilitated the distribution of the Welsh Government’s 14-19 year-olds’ pathways grant. Mounton House School, Chepstow was one of those allocated money. But it was sent two invoices by Gingell – one for the £10,000 grant money as requested, but also a supplementary consultancy invoice for £3,000. The bank details given were Gingell’s personal account.
The court heard how Gingell attempted to use the school as a third party to process a payment to himself without any authorisation. The school did not pay the invoice and sought advice from the local authority.
The work carried out by EAS was previously undertaken by local authorities and Gingell, who had worked for Monmouthshire County Council was one of the members of staff who moved across into the new organisation.
Gingell said that in between a transitions officer leaving MCC in June 2012 and a new learning officer being recruited in December 2012, he picked up the work of the vacant role. He said this transition averaged at around two hours extra work a day, which he calculated to be worth £3,000 for six months.
The court heard how in a meeting Gingell had with his line manager at EAS Steve Davis, he had asked for an honorarium for the additional work.
Called as a witness for the prosecution, Mr Davis said he told Gingell he didn’t have the authority to give him that payment and he’d had no knowledge of the invoice until auditors called him.
Taking the stand as the defence’s only witness, Gingell, was questioned on using the school. He said: “I thought it created clear separation of duties.”
Prosecutor Mark Pattrick asked Gingell if the figure of £3,000 had been discussed with anyone, to which he answered no. Gingell also denied ever having been told to pay himself.
Questioned on his arrest on June 10 of last year, Gingell said he was “mortified”. He said: “I admit it was a mistake, but I had never been dishonest. I love my job. “
Defending, Rhys Davies, said Gingell did not believe he was being dishonest, but the stress and pressure leading up to the end of the financial year caused misunderstanding.
District Judge Martin Brown said: acknowledged Gingell’s clean character and said aside a “certain amount of disillusion and disaffectedness” he had been held in high esteem by his employers.
He said: ““He acted dishonestly in trying to claim this money in the way he did. He wanted to put this through quickly so it could be buried so the EAS would know nothing about it.
“Desperate men do desperate things.
“This was a desperate and dishonest act.”
He was sentenced to a three-month curfew and ordered to pay £620 in court costs.
A spokesman for the South East Wales, Education Achievement Service (EAS), said: “Following an internal investigation a member of staff was suspended from work in June and was recently found guilty of fraud at Newport magistrates’ court. When we receive formal notification from the court we will continue with HR procedures to conclude the matter. Until then it would be inappropriate to comment any further.