Former Bedfordshire head teacher cleared of fraud

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A former Bedfordshire head teacher has has been cleared of fraud charges he faced after the prosecution announced today (October 11) that they would be offering no evidence against him.

Michael Lavelle, 59, left Luton Crown Court a free man and his reputation intact after Judge Barbara Mensah directed not guilty verdicts.

The decision by the crown came just 24 hours after a co-defendant of Mr Lavelle was told fraud charges he faced were also being dropped and he too had been exonerated.

Mr Lavelle and Noel Darlngton, a school caretaker, had arrived at court on Monday facing charges of fraud with their case listed for trial.

Today Mr Lavelle, who had faced five counts of fraud which he had strenuously denied, sat in the court dock as he heard Prosecutor Ann Evans announce the case against him was being dropped.

Mrs Evans said that the decision had been reached after a witness, who had originally made the allegations against the men, was now refusing to be a prosecution witness.

The witness, said the prosecutor, was “quite clearly not telling the whole truth.”

Michael Lavelle had been the head of Lincroft Middle School in Oakley near Bedford since 1998.

In recent years, he had also taken on executive leadership of Harrold Priory and Margaret Beaufort Middle Schools in North Bedfordshire.

His co-defendant, Noel Darlington, 43, of Hadfield Court, Bedford, had pleaded not guilty to two charges alleging fraud.