Preston nursery boss is spared jail over fraud

Preston Crown Court.  PIC BY ROB LOCKPreston Crown Court.  PIC BY ROB LOCK
Preston Crown Court. PIC BY ROB LOCK
A nursery owner who turned to fraud when her company had a damning Ofsted inspection has had her 15-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months.

Debt-ridden Tracy Park, 46, had set up Lollipops Day Nursery in Mayfield Avenue, Ingol, Preston in 2003.

Some 10 years later, in 2013, a new business called Lollipops Kids Education Ltd was set up to run the nursery, and the childcare centre was reregistered with her silent business partner Ian Birkby, who also owned the building.

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But unknown to him, Park was splashing out on holidays on the company credit card, for which he paid the bills.

The business was struggling to make any money and the same year it was told it needed to improve during an Ofsted inspection.

Preston’s Sessions House Court was told Park, of Park View Road, Lytham signed false lease documents making it appear she had nothing to do with the building, to ensure that demands for utility bills would not fall to her.

Prosecuting, Claire Larton said Park was being chased for other debts. She added: “She also used a business credit card for her own personal use to the tune of £7,487.”

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The offences came to light when a suspicious Mr Birkby came down from his home in Scotland to delve into the company’s affairs. Park later admitted possessing an article for use in a fraud, namely the two false lease documents and fraud by false representation by using the company credit card. The offences took place between August 2013 and August 2015.

The Ofsted inspection graded the nursery as three - improvement needed.

It pointed out staff needed to review the environment regularly and take action to remove or minimise identified hazards to children. It said the provision was not giving children a good standard of early years education.

Judge Christopher Cornwall, suspended her sentence and also ordered her to pay £2,500 compensation to Ian Birkby at £200 a month.

Park was not available for comment.

Lollipops Kids Ltd is now listed as a dissolved company.