OUR VIEW: Theft can damage a lot of good work

It would be nice if the money was repaid to a Campbell RIver elementary school, but don't count on it

The volunteers who form the parent advisory council at Discovery Passage Elementary School shouldn’t hold their breaths “waiting for justice.”

It’s unfortunate, but it’s rare to get real justice out of the legal system.

And that’s likely the situation the council will find itself in, when Neil Taylor is sentenced for stealing more than $5,000 from the school fund to buy new playground equipment.

He was also charged, along with his wife Jessica, of committing fraud over $5,000, but it’s expected those charges will all be dropped in exchange for the guilty plea Neil Taylor entered in provincial court last week.

That may not seem fair to the council members, the staff, students and everyone else who donated money to the cause, but it’s a compromise solution that’s common in most court cases.

In short, a guilty plea spares the great expense of running a trial, it spares the victims of testifying against a former friend, and it guarantees a criminal conviction. The latter is important, but it now gives the council “sure footing” if it chooses to pursue a civil lawsuit.

That can be expensive too and, again, there’s no guarantee the council would ever get a dime back, even by winning a potential lawsuit.

What would serve as far better justice would be for Neil Taylor to repay the money he stole, plus a fine.

Again though, that could be a longshot because people who typically steal don’t have much money. We can’t say if this was the case for Neil Taylor; we don’t even know why the money was taken. Perhaps we’ll find out when he’s sentenced.

What we do know, according to the council, was that more than $10,000 went missing from the count when Neil was treasurer and his wife the chair. Thankfully, the new playground was built thanks to a $50,000 grant from the province.

The real problem created by thefts like these is the doubt it may create in the minds of the people who donate. This is a very generous community and we donate because it helps improve individual lives as well as the community.

Volunteer groups do tremendous work in Campbell River, but they must always be on guard for people like Neil Taylor.