Convicted: Sidney Sussex bursary manager found guilty of £56,000 theft

Jonathan Laurence 1 November 2007

A high-ranking college official who stole £56,000 from the student bar has escaped jail. Robert Page, former bursary manager at Sidney Sussex College, was handed a suspended sentence after he admitted charges of theft and false accounting.

Page, 62, had worked at Sidney for more than 40 years. He joined the college office after moving through the ranks from his first job as a part-time waiter.

From the senior position of bursary manager he siphoned off student bar takings and manipulated accounts to cover his tracks.

Cambridge Crown Court heard that the thefts had been going on since 2001. But they had only come to light in 2006 when an inspection discovered a shortfall in bar accounts.

Page told The Cambridge Student (TCS) that he voluntarily admitted to his wrong-doing before a college investigation could confront him with evidence of the offences.

Even when college dismissed him he was still allowed to keep his full pension. Despite using his £34,000 pension funds to pay back what he stole, the college were still left more than £22,000 short.

In court, Judge Jonathan Haworth told Page, “You thought you could borrow the money and pay it back…It reached the point, I suspect, that you had no idea of the total you had taken. You were under the impression it was £34,000, but it was nearer £56,000 in total.”

Page pleaded guilty to one charge of theft and nine counts of false accounting. But he requested 38 other charges relating to the case to be taken into consideration.

Melanie Benn, defence counsel, said: “Mr Page had personal medical issues, his wife and mother were both ill, he had trouble coming to terms with the death of his nephew and he was in debt. He has shown a great deal of remorse over what has happened.”

Page had run up massive debts by using credit cards to pay for renovation work to his house.

Prior to the case, he had expressed a wish to donate the house to Sidney Sussex College, but now believes that this donation may no longer be appropriate.

Because of his previous good record and concerns over the care of his wife, his 12-month prison sentence was suspended for 18 months.

He also received an 18-month supervision order and was instructed to complete 120 hours of unpaid work.

When contacted by TCS, he said that he wanted to re-iterate how sorry he was, but declined to provide further comment.

A Sidney Sussex spokesman told Cambridge Evening News: “Mr Page had been a senior figure in the college administration for many years and was trusted.

“We are dismayed that that trust was abused and notified police as soon as the thefts were discovered.

“The authorities decided to take court action and it is good that the matter is now finally closed.”

Catherine Watts

Jonathan Laurence