Jail for Army officer who fiddled £188,000 to pay school fees

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AN Army officer who defrauded taxpayers of nearly £200,000 to educate his children at a top private school has been jailed for 12 months.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Henry Jolleys, 53, claimed the cash to send his three sons to the exclusive £28,000-per-year Roman Catholic Stonyhurst College in Lancashire.

Jolleys, who is known as Henry, kept up the elaborate charade by maintaining to his superiors he was still married and that his wife Judith lived with him in his Army quarters when in fact they had separated.

His ruse was only rumbled when his now ex-wife rang his superior officer in the summer of 2009 and asked “Where’s Henry?”, sparking an investigation.

Jailing him at Swindon Crown Court yesterday, Recorder Jeremy Wright told Jolleys he had committed a “serious, substantial fraud” over five years between 2004 and 2009, and added: “You are an intelligent man and knew what you were doing.”

Jolleys sent sons Rupert, 22, Charles, 20, and his youngest, aged 15, to Stonyhurst using the Army’s continuing education allowance (CEA) which allows service personnel to send children to boarding school to prevent disruption to schooling caused by postings around the UK and abroad.

The officer, of Woodlands Park in Whalley, Clitheroe, Lancashire, used the “eye-watering” sums of money – totalling £188,060.11 – to provide a privileged education for five years that he could not have otherwise afforded, his trial heard.

As the Army investigation began, Jolleys realised the “balloon had gone up” and set about trying cover his tracks.

He was legitimately claiming the allowance, which pays up to 90 per cent of the school fees, until he separated from his wife. Jolleys told the trial jury he knew the “broad rules” but maintained he and his wife had not separated when he was posted from London to North Yorkshire in 2002. Mrs Jolleys, who gave evidence from behind a screen, said they effectively separated in 2002, and divorced in 2010.

After the Army began its investigation, he applied for retrospective re-classification of his status to “primary carer” – meaning he had parental responsibility for his three sons rather than his wife – and he could continue claiming the allowance.

Jolleys was convicted of three charges of obtaining a money transfer by deception, three charges of fraud and one charge of the forgery of his ex-wife’s signature on a bank form, after a trial in January.