Sheffield music teacher who faked exams to pay pupils £1,500

Music teacher Helen Smith outside Sheffield Magistrates' Court
Music teacher Helen Smith outside Sheffield Magistrates' Court
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A Sheffield music teacher who used a fake official to conduct sham piano exams at her home must pay £1,500 in compensation to her former pupils.

Helen Smith, aged 42, was also given a suspended prison sentence when she appeared at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

Smith put on fraudulent exams for five students at her house on Pickard Crescent, Stradbroke, on December 15, 2012.

She also wrote to the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music to claim a refund for one student for a separate cancelled examination, falsely claiming the woman’s father had died.

Smith denied six counts of fraud by abuse of position and one charge of fraud by false representation between February 2012 and March 2013 but was convicted last month after a two-day trial.

District Judge Sheila Driver said the fraud was made more serious as three of the students were under 18.

“The financial loss was not great but I did hear from the witnesses who gave evidence as to the particular distress of the young witnesses when the fraud was discovered and they realised they hadn’t achieved what they had been told they had achieved,” she said.

Smith was ordered to pay £300 to each of the five victims or their families.

She was also given a 20-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and will be electronically tagged for 12 weeks to observe a night-time curfew. Smith will also be required to attend 15 sessions at a re-offending prevention project.

But Judge Driver turned down an application for Smith to pay prosecution costs of £1,918 due to her financial difficulties.

Smith said windows at her house had been smashed and she had received threatening phone calls following the case.

Smith, who taught at Abbeydale Grange School for more than four years, had previously been banned from school teaching for two years by the General Teaching Council after she toured America while claiming sick pay in 2007.