Hartlepool teacher who fiddled £16,000 from school trips spared jail

COURT: Thomas Bisset pictured leaving Hartlepool Magistrates' Court.
COURT: Thomas Bisset pictured leaving Hartlepool Magistrates' Court.

A teacher who fiddled £16,000 from school trips has walked from court after being spared jail.

Thomas Bisset was sacked from his head of year job at St Hild’s in Hartlepool and has since lost his home, Teesside Crown Court heard.

COURT: Thomas Bisset pictured leaving Hartlepool Magistrates' Court.

COURT: Thomas Bisset pictured leaving Hartlepool Magistrates' Court.

Bisset, who had been a teacher for 21 years, had debts of £40,000 and declared himself Bankrupt in 2011 - the same year he began profiteering from school trips.

“Concerns were raised over the finances of a trip to Flamingoland in 2014,” said Rachel Masters, prosecuting. “It emerged Bisset charged 27 pupils £40 each for the trip, but paid less per head to the attraction.

“He used the extra money to buy more tickets, which he then sold to more pupils at the inflated price.

“It was the profit from the second set of pupils that he kept, and which forms part of the charge against him.”

The court head an investigation by the school found Bisset had used the same technique to make money from school trips dating back to 2011.

Ms Masters added: “The total benefit to him was £16,123.

“I understand the school is refunding the parents who were over charged.”

Bisset, 47, of Durham Road, Hartlepool, admitted fraud between November 2011 and July of last year.

Ian Hudson, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Bisset has lost everything, his job, his good name, his pension and his house. The way he ran the trips was not fraudulent from the outset, and he was always under the impression that it was up to him how they were financed.

“He has been diagnosed as having mental health problems and he is the sole carer for his wife.”

Judge Tony Briggs sentenced Bisset to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.

The judge told him: “Many people speak well of you, it is clear from those testimonials you were a gifted and talented teacher.

“The breach of trust was serious, but this was not a case as we sometimes see where money is handed over for a trip that doesn’t happen.

“You have brought total disgrace upon yourself, and I am narrowly persuaded it is not necessary to send you to immediate custody.”

Judge Briggs said there would be no costs or compensation orders made against Bisset because of his ‘parlous’ financial state.