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Jailed: Former headteacher, 75, failed to pay thousands of pounds of hotel bills

By Deborah Hardiman | Craven Arms | Crime | Published:

Two staff members at the one of the hotels have had to be laid off as a result of Norma Hartley-Porter's actions.

Norma Hartley-Porter was locked up for 10 months

A former headteacher has been jailed for 10 months for racking up thousands of pounds in guesthouse bills and failing to pay.

It is the second time that Norma Hartley-Porter, 75, has been sent to prison.

The latest offences relate to when the defendant stayed at the Affcot Lodge near Craven Arms between August and November 2017 and accrued a bill of £3,000 before leaving.

Then in February 2018 she left from the White Horse, Clun, without paying £692.35 in arrears.

Representing herself Hartley-Porter, of Brooklands Park, Craven Arms, told Shrewsbury Crown Court that she would repay the money owed, but had been advised not to contact the victims in the case.

However, sentencing her yesterday, Judge Jonathan Gosling said: "I'm afraid I don't believe you.

"I cannot accept your assertion that you intend to pay it back due to your previous convictions."

He said she was "well-heeled, educated" and she used this to fool businesses and other people into trusting her

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"You are a thoroughly dishonest person. You have previously cheated other people including some who were vulnerable.

"You blamed the probation officer for not properly assessing you. You say that his assertion that you have got no remorse was wrong. The officer is highly experienced.

"The report is written in pretty brutal terms and that is because he got the true measure of you in a very short space of time.

'There is no prospect whatsoever of you paying'

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"This crime is too serious for anything but an immediate jail sentence.

"The remorse you claim to feel starts with an admission of guilt which you expressed at the very last minute. What you should have done was put aside money to pay up."

The judge said he would not award compensation or costs.

"There is no prospect whatsoever of you paying these victims. I do not want them to hold out any hope of getting any of it back," Judge Gosling added.

In his victim impact statement one of the owners described how two staff members had to be laid-off as a result of her actions.

He stated: "I now have zero trust in customers. I regularly beat myself up over what happened."

"She seemed like a nice lady, just like my elderly mother."

Hartley-Porter had initially denied fraud offences and a trial was due to be held, but the court heard she subsequently pleaded guilty to two alternative counts of making off without payment.

"I accept that I what I have done is wrong," the defendant said.

She was jailed for 10 months on each count to run concurrently. She must serve half before being released.

Her previous convictions include an eight-month jail term in 2011 for dishonesty. And she received a supervision order in 2016 for similar offences.

She was still serving that order when she committed the latest Affcot Lodge offence in November 2017.

Deborah Hardiman

By Deborah Hardiman
@Deborahh_Star

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based out of the head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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