Former Dromara Primary School headmaster charged with fraud

Stanley Poots was headmaster at Dromara Primary School for 41 years
Stanley Poots was headmaster at Dromara Primary School for 41 years

A retired headmaster who was awarded an MBE has been charged with 25 allegations of fraud.

A solicitor for 71-year-old Stanley Poots, headmaster of Dromara Primary School for over 40 years, told Lisburn Magistrates’ Court “these matters are denied and will proceed to trial”.

Mr Poots, whose address was given as c/o Dromara Primary School on the Hillsborough Road in the town, faces a total of 25 offences including 10 of forgery, five of fraud by false representation, three of fraud by abusing the position he held at the school, four of false accounting, two counts of using a false instrument and possessing an article to commit fraud, with all of the charges alleged to have been committed on various dates between October 20 2006 and November 3 2011.

Amongst the charges it is alleged that Mr Poots, who was awarded an MBE in 2011 for services to education, forged an annual salary review, cashed cheques, created false invoices, falsified an expenditure sheet and a Big Lottery Fund application form.

Mr Poots, the former president of the Ulster Teachers’ Union and who retired from his post as headmaster in 2011 after 41 years, was not in court on Monday for the short hearing.

His case had been scheduled to be referred to the Crown Court for trial but, applying for the committal proceedings to be adjourned, Mr Poots’ solicitor said there is a “vast amount of papers and police interviews” the defence needs to review before the preliminary enquiry can take place.

Applying for legal aid, the defence solicitor revealed that although Mr Poots has a pension of £650 per week, he has significant outgoings and given the nature of the offences, “expert witnesses will have to be instructed”.

Refusing to grant legal aid, however, and relisting the case for the new year, District Judge Rosie Watters told the solicitor she could reapply when the case got to the Crown Court.

Stanley Poots worked for 46 years as a teacher. He began his career at Dromore Central Primary School before moving to Dromara Primary School, where he was principal for 41 years.

Mr Poots, who is married with four grown-up sons, served as president of the Ulster Teachers’ Union from 2007 to 2008.