A former school principal will have to repay the Education Department more than $40,000 he stole while working for a regional school.
Former Meekatharra School of the Air principal John Michael McHale was due to be sentenced today for more than 260 dishonesty offences, but a “wildly inaccurate” report prepared for his sentencing saw sentencing delayed until next week.
The District Court was told that while McHale was the principal of the school, he stole school property, submitted false sick leave, travel and insurance claims and used school money to purchase items, including groceries.
McHale pleaded guilty to 266 offences, including fraud and stealing as a public servant, and was convicted after a trial of a further charge of stealing as a servant.
Judge O’Neal yesterday agreed not to take into account a report prepared for sentencing after McHale’s lawyer Laurie Levy said his client disputed some of the things contained in the report, including that he told its author he did not benefit personally from the items he bought.
Judge O’Neal described the report as one of the most “wildly inaccurate” he had come across.
State prosecutor Laura Christian said McHale should be sentenced to an immediate jail term, saying his offending was serious and students had been the victims because he deprived the school of the funds he stole.
She requested an order for McHale to pay more than $46,000 compensation to the Education Department.
Mr Levy told the court McHale got a “thrill and a rush” when he used the school credit card, but immediately afterwards, felt ashamed and remorseful.
McHale will be sentenced next Friday.