Book thrown at National Library swindler

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AN IT manager who swindled £500,000 from the National Library of Scotland has been jailed.

Chief information officer David Dinham was sentenced to two years yesterday after he secretly awarded his own IT company library contracts worth more than 240,000.

The Australian spent another 260,000 on goods with a government credit card he was entrusted with by his employers, in his role as manager of the institution's goods and services.

Dinham was in such a position of seniority that his dealings were left unchecked by library chiefs. When he realised that his spending was not being supervised, he persistently defrauded cash for four years without being noticed.

But as well as spending money on himself, Dinham, who told neighbours he was a "missionary", helped others by using some of the cash to fund voluntary projects, Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard. He suffered depression because he was adopted and carried out the fraud in a bid to make himself happy, his solicitor said.

Fraud officers were called in to investigate after his crime was discovered in September last year. Unknown to library chiefs, Dinham was also the sole director of a company called Raith Solutions while he worked for them, said Fiscal depute Pauline Shade.

She added: "Concerns were raised by a member of staff that matters with regard to the accounts didn't appear to be in order so an investigation was commenced. It was then discovered that the accused had awarded himself a contract."

Library contracts of a certain value had to go out to tender, she said. "This had not happened when it should have," added the fiscal.

Dinham, 33, had previously admitted carrying out the offence between 6 September 2006 and 9 June 2010, according to court papers. An investigation found that Dinham had awarded himself a total of ten contracts.

Dinham told police that some of the services contracted out to the firm were provided. But it would have been difficult for the library to establish just what was provided, the fiscal said.

He also told officers that the credit card transactions were for "personal purchases", the fiscal said. Defence agent Duncan Hughes said: "He made one purchase with his credit card, a fairly small item, but realised there were no checks.

"He seems to have then continued to purchase, and the money is going up and up. He seems to lurch from feelings of very low mood and depression to periods of mania. He described times of mania when he spent money.

He went to Australia for the weekend. Equally, he spent money on voluntary projects."

He was brought up in Australia in a very high achieving family and had gained "several degrees" in accounting and information technology, said Mr Hughes. Dinham was on anti-depressants during the scam, he added.

Dinham is now heavily involved with the Morningside Baptist Church, and was being supported by church members. He has since sold all his assets to pay 150,000 of the money back.

Social workers recommended that Dinham should not face a custodial sentence so he could get access to mental health treatment. But Sheriff Alastair Noble said: "This case still has to be dealt with by way of a custodial sentence given the gravity of the offence."

Dinham's adoptive father, who did not want to be named, said he had been "shocked" by his son's behaviour. "It was his depression," he said, adding his son's activities should have been spotted sooner.

A confiscation hearing to recover the outstanding 350,000 has been set for September.

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