A shamed dance teacher who made ‘cut and paste’ certificates after faking exams has been sentenced.
Judge Stuart Baker said that Natasha Jones had betrayed the parents of children at her dance school, The Ballet Academy, by lying and falsifying documents.
The court heard how the Stonyhurst College teacher, who also ran her own dance school at St Bede’s Catholic Primary, in Clayton Green, Chorley, had staged the exams despite not being a member of the awarding bodies.
Jones, who pleaded guilty to four charges of making the false certificates at an earlier hearing, charged the parents more than £100 for the exams, and then made the certificates on her own computer.
It was only when parents became suspicious and rang the dance institutions, including The Royal Academy of Dance, that it was revealed the awards were fakes.
Prosecuting, David Traynor told Court One at Sessions House: “The families had paid big sums of money for the dance lessons, and at various stages their children were entered into exams.They were sent to an exam centre, and assessed by an apparent external examiner and those who passed were issued with a certificate.
“In 2010, parents started to become suspicious about the validity of those certificates and started to make enquiries. The defendant was arrested, but denied the offences.”
Defending the 35-year-old, of Boarded Barn, Euxton, Beverley Hackett said Jones was too ashamed to tell her family what she had done.
She said her client’s life had descended into chaos, as she was juggling working 60 hours a week with bringing up children, and she had not kept paperwork up-to-date.
She added: “Her work was not properly organised. She cared deeply for the children and not wanting to disappoint them, she lied and falsified documents.
“She was too ashamed to tell her family. She was ashamed of the role model she was presenting to her children and found it hard to come to terms with what she had done.”
Miss Hackett said that Jones wanted to apologise to the children and their families and said she had found the process to be one of deep embarrassment.
She had to be helped in to the dock by her father, a vicar, and sobbed during the hearing. Sentencing her to a 12 month community order, Judge Baker said: “It is a sad day when a court has to pass a criminal sentence on a woman of previous good character who has let her family down, herself down and a lot of other people down as well.”
He said her lies had been “unpleasant”, “clear” and “persistent” and ordered her to pay £375 compensation to two of the families involved.
Reacting to the sentence outside court, David Holland, who had sent his teenage daughter Megan to The Ballet Academy from the age of four, said: “It wasn’t about the punishment, it’s the fact that she has finally admitted what she had done. We sent our children to the dance schools for a number of years and she broke our trust. The important thing is that our children all still love to dance and we are proud of how they have dealt with this process. We will now draw a line under what has happened and move on and we hope Natasha does so too.”
PC Rik Nicol, who led the three year investigation, praised their determination to bring Jones to justice,
He said: “This result has been a massive relief to all concerned. I cannot praise the parents enough, they have displayed an excellent level of patience, determination and support for their children.”