A FORMER dinner lady at Callington Primary School has been found guilty of three counts of theft from the school by a jury at Truro Crown Court.

Vanessa Trevithick, aged 38, stole £3,802 from Callington Primary School's dinner money accounts between April and November of last year.

The jury heard how the mother of two failed to meet her mortgage repayments and risked losing her home with arrears of £9,000, while also running up other debts.

Before she was suspended from the school, Ms Trevithick, of Laburnum Row, Callington, was responsible for collecting the children's lunch money at the beginning of every day.

The court heard she would then record the amounts before banking the money into the school account at the nearby branch of Barclay's.

Last Friday, the court heard how the amount of money shown on Ms Trevithick's records did not tally with the amount eventually paid into the school bank account.

When asked by police how her records had shown a total of £321.94 had been collected on one occasion, but only £114.48 was banked, she said: 'I don't know, because everything I recorded was written down and then someone was always cross referencing.'

The court heard that when police examined the paying-in book Ms Trevithick used, 12 of the slips were missing.

She told the jury that she had made a mistake three times and ripped the slips out, but admitted she should have folded them up and left them in the book.

The court heard the missing money came to light last November, when one of the school secretaries wrote out a cheque to Callington College, which supplied the children's meals, and the cheque bounced.

During the trial, Ms Trevithick said she had had to take several days off work because one of her children was ill, and other membes of staff had carried out her monetary duties.

She admitted suffering financial difficulties, but was adamant during a whole day in the witness box that she had never taken any money.

She also said that on occasions, the tray containing the dinner money had been kept on a shelf in the school office, where others had access to it.

But the jury last Friday found Ms Trevithick guilty of the three counts of theft, with prosecutor Paul Rowsell branding her a 'brazen liar' following the verdict.

Ms Trevithick was remanded on bail and will be sentenced by Judge Ian Leeming QC on November 26, following preparation of a probation officer's report.