On trial for fraud

Lincoln Crown Court.
Lincoln Crown Court.

The son of the chief executive of the Priory Federation of Academies was given a job with the organisation despite apparently not being interviewed, a jury was told on Friday.

Elizabeth Ann Turner, development co-ordinator with the Federation, said she had no recollection of Kia Richardson undergoing an interview before he was appointed as yard manager at the organisation’s Laughton Manor equestrian centre, near Folkingham.

She told the jury at Lincoln Crown Court she had no recollection of the job being advertised and that the job description for the position was changed because it was felt that Mr Richardson would not be able to perform the tasks required.

She said she approached Mr Richardson’s father Richard Gilliland: “I said we were asking someone that wasn’t able to climb a hill to climb a mountain in my opinion.”

Gilliland, who was paid £200,000 a year as chief executive of the Priory Federation, and Stephen Davies, a former maths teacher who was appointed finance director, are alleged to have defrauded the organisation out of thousands of pounds.

Mrs Turner said that during the time Kia Richardson worked at Laughton Manor the head of the unit raised issues with her about Kia’s performance.

The jury has heard that an enhanced CRB check obtained for Mr Richardson was simply placed in an office drawer, with no-one allowed to see it. David Allan, prosecuting, told the jury that the check revealed Mr Richardson had previous convictions for possession of heroin as well as for flashing and masturbating in public.

The Federation’s former finance director Jean Willey, giving evidence, told the jury a £2,480 bill paid by the Federation covered the fees for Kia Richardson to attend a course at the West Bridgford Equestrian Centre even though Mr Richardson was not yet employed by the Federation.

The jury was also told that payments made for Mr Richardson to attend an equine training course at Writtle College, Chelmsford, were recorded in the Federation accounts as being for refurbishment work at an education centre in France which was owned by the organisation.

Mr Richardson resigned his post following inquiries made by the News of the World newspaper into the affairs of the Federation, although he received three months’ severance pay despite being employed for less than six months.

Gilliland is also alleged to have used his Federation credit card to purchase hundreds of items for his personal use off Amazon including a six-person spa pool, a gazebo, three DVD players, an Apple I-pad 2, a Kindle, an Apple I-pod classic and video games as well as a motorbike security chain and what was described as “compression wear”.

The prosecutor told the jury: “The Crown say that Mr Gilliland dishonestly used money belonging to four schools for his own benefit and he was helped to do this by Stephen Davies.”

Mr Allan said of Gilliland: “He was virtually able to negotiate his own salary and benefit package. As a result he became absolutely reckless as to what expenses were his.”

After Kia Richardson resigned his post Gilliland then repaid money to the Federation for personal purchases.

Gilliland, 64, who now lives in Spain, denies six charges of fraud by abuse of position on dates between October 2008 and November 2011. Davies, 58, of Abingdon Avenue, Lincoln, denies three charges of fraud by abuse of position.

The trial continues.