A former head teacher who engaged in sexual activity at the school and swindled more than £100,000 from their accounts has been jailed.
James Stewart, former principal of Sawtry Community College, was sentenced to four years after he admitted four counts of fraud, two counts of aiding and abetting fraud and one count of misconduct in public office relating to his time at the school, which also include drinking on the premises and leaving during the day to attend horse racing.
His office was described in court as “like a sex dungeon.”
The former vice principal, Alan Stevens (64) of Sapperton, Werrington, has also pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud.
He was sentenced to 24 weeks suspended for 12 months with 80 hours of unpaid work at the same hearing at Huntingdon Crown Court today (Friday).
Stewart (72) of Kimbolton Road, Bedford, who had been principal of the college for almost 30 years and had overseen its move away from being a local authority school into an academy in February 2012, resigned on July 1.
The charges relate to a period of time between August 2011 and August 2014 and are linked to: .
- Regularly engaging in sexual activity with another adult on school premises during school hours within parts of his office adapted for such purpose.
- Regularly drinking alcoholic beverages on school premises during school hours to such an extent as to affect his ability to manage the academy to the highest standards to be expected as a public officer.
- Regularly and frequently preventing others access to him while on the school premises by locking himself away in his office for long periods and absenting himself from school premises during school hours for purposes other than to do with the good management of the school i.e. habitually arriving at school late, habitually leaving school early, visiting horse races and going on personal ski trips abroad.
He also pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud which included:
- Fraud for expenses claims to a value of £37,000.
- Fraud for expenses to a value of £47,500.
- Aiding and abetting Stevens in fraud (relating to Stevens’ expenses) .
- Fraud - relating to the charge cards to a value of £10,537.
- Fraud - relating to the direct debit payments to a value of £6,400.
The school is now called Sawtry Academy and has since been taken over by the Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust which is launching a campaign to “put right the crimes of the past and invest in the future of the school.”
After the men pleaded guilty in August, the trust’s chair Shirley Jamieson said: “Not only has the school lost significant sums of money as a result of these behaviours but the absence of leadership during this period means that we are still trying to catch up on years of under investment in its building condition. “For far too long, because of the conduct of the school’s former leaders, our students, staff and community have had to put up with shoddy buildings that are not fit for use.”