Chief executive of academies including Priory Ruskin in Grantham defrauded organisation of thousands of pounds, court told

Court news
Court news

The chief executive of a flagship Lincolnshire group of academy schools, which includes Priory Ruskin in Grantham, defrauded the organisation out of thousands of pounds, a jury at Lincoln Crown Court was told.

Richard Gilliland, who was paid over £200,000 a year as chief executive of the Priory Federation of Academies, is alleged to have been assisted by the Federation’s finance director Stephen Davies in concealing what was happening at the organisation.

David Allan, prosecuting, told the jury that the academy paid for equestrian training courses for Gilliland’s son Kia Richardson which were not the responsibility of the Federation.

Mr Allan said that Gilliland arranged for Kia Richardson to be given a job at the school in Folkingham and concealed the results of an enhanced CRB check which showed that he was unsuitable to be working with children because of previous convictions for outraging public decency and possession of heroin.

Kia Richardson’s CRB check was not fully revealed to the trustees and it was only after inquiries were made by a national newspaper that Mr Richardson resigned from his role as yard manager at the Federation’s Laughton Manor equestrian centre. After he left he was paid over £4,000 in over-time payments he was not entitled to, said Mr Allan.

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.

“You are going to hear a story of greed and dishonesty by these two people charged with the running of four state schools.

“The Priory Federation of Academies was given control of four state schools. It was given a large amount of money to rebuild them and set them up.”

The jury heard that the Federation, which was established in 2008, purchased and renovated a country house in France and also bought the equestrian centre near Sleaford. The organisation includes The Priory Ruskin Academy in Grantham and three academies in Lincoln.

Mr Allan said: “Richard Gilliland was the chief executive. It seems that he believed he was the Priory Federation of Academies (PFA) and that the PFA’s money was his. Mr Gilliland wasn’t the PFA. He was just an employee, albeit a very important and powerful employee.

“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. He added his PFA credit card details to his account with Amazon.

“Mr Gilliland was using his PFA credit card to make huge numbers of purchases of items for his own benefit and, perhaps, the benefit of his own family. He was issued with a PFA credit card to make purchases for work purposes.”

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

Mr Allan told the jury that the Federation’s finance director Stephen Davies, a former maths teacher who had no accountancy qualifications, connived with Gilliland to allow illicit payments to be made.

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.