Ex Army officer in school fees con must pay back £100,000

Former lieutenant colonel Robert Jolleysl. Photo: Tim Ireland/PA Wire
Former lieutenant colonel Robert Jolleysl. Photo: Tim Ireland/PA Wire
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A former Army officer from Whalley who defrauded taxpayers of nearly £250,000 to educate his children at a top Ribble Valley private school has been ordered to pay back less than half.

Former Lieutenant Colonel Robert Henry Jolleys (54), of Woodlands Park, Whalley, claimed £232,000 to send his three sons to the exclusive £28,000-a-year Roman Catholic Stonyhurst College, Hurst Green.

He was jailed for 12 months in March last year by a judge at Swindon Crown Court who told him he had committed a “serious, substantial fraud” over five years between 2004 and 2009.

The father of three, who has since been released from prison, returned to the same court for a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Judge Peter Blair QC ruled Jolleys had six months to repay £98,953.02 or face 18 months’ imprisonment.

The fraud totalled £232,143.28 – a figure Jolleys was not contesting – but he was disputing the value put on his assets, with the Crown insisting he was worth nearly £100,000 and the former soldier claiming he had £77,596.77.

Mr Alex Menary (representing Jolleys) said the difference was the defendant’s 12.5% share in his elderly father’s home, which he and his three siblings had inherited equally when their mother – who owned half – died in 2010.

The court heard Jolleys’ father was now 90 and suffering from a range of medical problems, which required regular hospital attention.

“My father is frail and is in and out of hospital,” Jolleys told the court. “He is supported by my sister and other family members. He would find it very difficult to live on his own and requires day-to-day support to take medication and visit hospital.”

Jolleys also said his fraud conviction had made it difficult to find employment. “I still look after the youngest under age child, plus care for my father and the kidney disease I left the Army with ... cumulatively they all impact upon the ability to work,” he said.

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

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

Jurors heard Jolleys sent sons Rupert, now 24, Charles (22), and William (17) to Stonyhurst - motto Quant Je Puis (As much as I can) - using the Army’s continuing education allowance (CEA). This allows service personnel to send their children to boarding school to prevent disruption to their schooling caused by postings around the UK and abroad.

Jolleys 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.

He told the trial jury he knew the Army’s “broad rules” but maintained he and his wife had not separated when he was posted from London to North Yorkshire in 2002.

Jolleys, who retired from the Army before the legal proceedings, was convicted of three charges of obtaining a money transfer by deception, three charges of fraud and one of the forgery of his ex-wife’s signature on a bank form.

According to the Ministry of Defence, the CEA is available to all ranks, not just officers. Service personnel can claim up to £6,074 per child per term, but must pay at least 10% of the school fees themselves.

The confiscated money will be used to compensate the Army.