Ex-head faces string of fraud charges

Stanley Poots
Stanley Poots

A retired Dromara headmaster was yesterday (Monday) charged with 25 counts of fraud.

A solicitor for 71-year-old Stanley Poots - Dromara Primary School principal for over 40 years and recipient in 2011 of an MBE for services to education - 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, Hillsborough Road, faces 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 alleged offences said to have been committed on dates between 20 October 2006 and 3 November 2011.

It is alleged that Mr Poots forged an annual salary review, cashed cheques, created false invoices, falsified an expenditure sheet and a Big Lottery Fund application form.

A former president of the Ulster Teachers Union, Mr Poots, who retired as principal in 2011 after 41 years, was not in court 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, his solicitor said there was a “vast amount of papers and police interviews” the defence needed to review before the Preliminary Enquiry could take place.

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

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

Married, with four grown sons, Stanley Poots worked for 46 years as a teacher. He began his career at Dromore Central Primary School before moving to Dromara Primary.