A COCAINE-addicted Harrow School employee was caught stealing cash and supplies in a bid to repay his drug debts.
Stephen Whitehead, who worked in the High Street, Harrow on the Hill, school’s works department as a maintenance processor, pilfered money and items worth approximately £2,900 over a number of months in 2012.
Whitehead was caught when another member of staff, Liam O’Connor, noticed something unusual when he saw rubble sacks full of copper fixtures and fittings suddenly vanish.
When viewing closed-circuit television footage, Mr O’Connor saw images of Whitehead moving these sacks, leading to an internal investigation which found that Whitehead was taking property belonging to the school to a scrap merchant to sell, and was pocketing the cash for himself.
The school later found that Whitehead was responsible for stealing more than £1,000 in cash between June 11 and November 16 last year.
A disciplinary hearing was scheduled by the school for November 29 last year but Whitehead did not attend.
Whitehead, 32, of Makem Avenue, South Harrow, admitted two counts of theft at Hendon Magistrates’ Court on July 26.
Mr Grobar, for Whitehead, explained to the same court on Friday, August 16 that his client had racked up debts to a drug dealer and was further servicing his cocaine addiction by taking out a payday loan.
The defendant’s family have since helped him clear his debts, and have paid back the amount he stole from Harrow School – a total of £2,916 – the court heard.
Whitehead, who now works as a car transporter driver, was previously convicted of a series of thefts in 2003 at Willesden Magistrates’ Court, the magistrates were told.
Sentencing Whitehead, presiding magistrate Yasmin Mehmet said: "We know that the money has been paid back and you are dealing with your drug addiction.
"We note that you are making every effort to turn your life around."
Whitehead received 20 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid community service.
A spokeswoman for Harrow School said: "We are happy that the matter with Stephen Whitehead is now resolved."