Bo’ness woman who robbed charity is jailed for 18 months

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A Bo’ness woman wept as she was jailed for 18 months for stealing £55,000 from a charity for the elderly.

Lesley Mathison (49,) of Hillside Grove, had pled guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court to embezzling the cash from Abbeyfield Scotland Ltd between May 1, 2011, and September 26, 2013.

Sentence had been deferred until Friday (March 31) for reports.

Mathison, who had a previous conviction for embezzlement, was employed as an administrative officer and business support officer for Abbeyfield, a not-for- profit organisation, in West Maitland Street and New Mart Road in Edinburgh.

The charity operates sheltered retirement and care homes for the elderly in the city and other towns in Scotland.

Sheriff Frank Crowe heard she used her company credit card to make purchases for herself and her family.

Fiscal depute, Brian Robertson, said the offence had been uncovered “more by luck than anything else by the auditors”.

She was also making cash withdrawals ranging from £50 to £250, most under £100.

Defence solicitor David Patterson told Sheriff Crowe that his client accepted full responsibility and was remorseful, but could offer little explanation why she had acted in this way.

He said: “It is clear her behaviour was compulsive. She understand now her actions were a huge breach of trust and one which has great consequences for the business she embezzled the funds from”.

Mr Patterson added that it was only when her actions were detected and she was being sacked that she fully appreciated what she had done.

At her disciplinary hearing she had brought along a cheque for £50 believing that would settle what she had taken. The solicitor said that the previous conviction for embezzlement had been dealt with by a compensation order and unpaid work.

Mr Patterson said the social work report recommended a three year supervision period and an action plan had been prepared.

This, he added, would protect the public and tackle the root cause of her behaviour.

Sheriff Crowe said he found it amazing that so much money was taken without it being noticed. “This money was stolen from a charitable organisation,” he said “and your family will suffer from these proceedings.

“This behaviour absolutely must never happen again”.

Only a custodial sentence was appropriate, he added, and jailed her for 18 months.