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Swindle closes school

The Devon School of English was driven into bankruptcy because its accountant had been illegally taking out money totalling £260,000 over four years. James Perry, 46, was sentenced to jail in November this year after pleading guilty to theft and fraud while in a position of trust.

The British Council accredited school in Paignton, in the south-west of England, had been run by the same family for nearly 50 years when it went into liquidation in October last year after struggling to survive since the fraud was discovered in 2017. The founder, Brian Hawthorne, died just one week before the business was closed and the buildings were put up for sale.

In his victim’s statement read out in court, his son, Paul Hawthorne, who was principal of the school when it closed said, “Perry’s fraud made the liquidation inevitable. He betrayed all those around him with no regard to the hardship he caused.

“He has cost many people their livelihoods and our sense of deep sadness and betrayal is acute.”

Perry, who began recording false payments in the accounts to cover the sums he was taking shortly after joining the school in 2011, spent the money on drugs, drink and gambling, the Court was told. Judge Timothy Rose, who described Perry’s crimes as “appalling”, has ordered an investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act to try and locate any assets Perry may still have.

Image courtesy of Wikicommons
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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