A Wimbledon woman has been spared jail after stealing more than £5,000 from a parent teacher association.

Diane Shelly Goodwin, 37, of Cross Road, was given a six-month suspended sentence at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court today (January 8) after pleading guilty to fraud on December 14 at the same court.

Goodwin was sole treasurer of Friends of Pelham from September 2015 to May 2017, during which time she defrauded the charity of £5,352.

The PTA raises funds for Pelham Primary School in Merton to supply the children with equipment, resources and experiences that the school budget does not cover.

Members of Friends of Pelham became suspicious when three cheques provided by Goodwin from the fund bounced.

When confronted via email, Goodwin became “very defensive” and said she had “taken her eye off the ball” because of a family bereavement.

In May 2017, the PTA held a meeting with Goodwin and she “broke down” and admitted she had done “something immoral”.

She had been making a series of unauthorised purchases with the charity’s bank account.

Peter Hamill, mitigating, said Goodwin’s mother had passed away on her birthday and her father had died not long before this, which had a “devastating impact” on her.

He added: “The defendant has behaved completely out of character with the pressure she was under.”

Goodwin had no previous convictions.

A victim statement from co-chairwomen of the PTA, Emma Little and Anna Folkman, was read out in court.

It read: “I am so upset by the actions of Diane and her gross abuse of trust.

“We have been lied to on numerous occasions.

“She was well aware of her duties.

“The school’s reputation will be tarnished as well as the PTA’s and this will impact our ability to raise future funds.”

They added the fraud would have a “devastating impact” on the school community “as a whole” and that the children “have lost out on much-needed items”.

Sentencing, the magistrate said: “This was a serious fraud committed in a position of trust for which the school will struggle to recover.”

Goodwin must pay back £750 in compensation as a “priority”. 

She added that due to the fact that the Goodwin is on Job Seeker's Allowance, it would be difficult for her to pay back the stolen money, but “should when it is in her power to do so”. 

The sentence is suspended for 18 months and Goodwin will also have to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.