Hubby takes the fall for stealing students’ playground money

Couple charged after thousands of dollars go missing from fund to build new playground in Campbell River

Back in the winter 2011, Jessica Taylor said her child’s old and rotting school playground looked like a “murder scene” after it was sealed off with red tape.

Crime scene would be more accurate after Taylor’s husband, Neil Taylor, pleaded guilty to theft over $5,000 on Wednesday morning in Campbell River provincial court.

The former members of the Discovery Elementary School Parent Advisory Council were both charged with fraud over $5,000 and theft over $5,000.

She was the former chair of the council while he was the treasurer, and both were involved in fundraising to build a new playground for the students.

However, in January 2012, other council members told Campbell River RCMP that thousands of dollars were missing from their account. Following a lengthy police investigation, the Taylors were charged with theft and fraud.

Both Jessica and Neil pleaded not guilty to the charges. On Wednesday though, that changed when Neil took the blame by pleading guilty to theft.

Neil’s fraud charge is expected to be dropped by Crown prosecutor David Fitzsimmons and both charges against Jessica could be stayed as well.

However, it’s not a done deal and Fitzsimmons requested a pre-sentence report be prepared for the court. The prosecutor indicated he will wait until everything is completed before he considers dropping the other charges.

The Taylors entered the courtroom together, but did not address Judge Roderick Sutton. Jessica is several months pregnant and has maintained her not guilty pleas.

The couple is due back in court on Aug. 12.

– with files from Kristen Douglas/The Mirror