Shamed music teacher must repay her pupils

Music teacher Helen Smith appearing at Sheffield Magistrates court.
Music teacher Helen Smith appearing at Sheffield Magistrates court.
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A Sheffield music teacher who used a fake official to conduct sham piano exams at her home was given a suspended prison sentence and told to pay £1,500 in compensation to her former pupils.

Helen Smith, aged 42, arranged fraudulent exams for five students at her house in Pickard Crescent, Stradbroke, and also wrote to the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music to claim a refund for one student for a cancelled examination, falsely claiming the woman’s father had died.

District Judge Sheila Driver said 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.”

Smith, convicted of seven counts of fraud following a two-day trial, was given a 20 week prison sentence suspended for 12 months by city magistrates, and ordered to pay £300 to each of the five victims or their families.

She will be electronically tagged for 12 weeks for a night-time curfew, and must attend a re-offending prevention project.

An application for Smith to pay prosection costs of £1,918 was rejected due to her financial difficulties.

Smith said windows at her house had been smashed and she had received threatening phone calls. She used to teach at Abbeydale Grange, and had previously been banned from teaching for two years by the General Teaching Council after she toured America while claiming sick pay in 2007.