Jury out in Hartlepool dinner lady's £60,000 theft trial

The case is taking place at Teesside Crown Court.
The case is taking place at Teesside Crown Court.

A jury trying a dinner lady accused of stealing £60,000 from her school has retired to consider its verdict.

Paula Kester is alleged to have taken advantage of lax accounting procedures to take the money from St Hild's School, in the King Oswy area of Hartlepool.

Pupils paid their dinner money into machines at the school which credited a payment card.

As head cook, Kester was responsible for emptying the machines and preparing the money to be banked.

Prosecutors claim Kester put up less money for banking than the machines took, pocketing the difference.

The machines produced a record of how much money had been taken although no one at the school checked it against what was banked, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Kester told the jury money had apparently gone missing but that she had not taken it.

She said the extent of the losses had only become apparent to her after the police investigation.

Kester, 53, of Percy Street, Hartlepool, denies four charges of theft between September, 2012, and April, 2016.

The jury is due to resume its deliberations on Wednesday morning.