Aberdeen woman faces jail time after embezzling more than £230,000 worth of cash and drugs from Crown Office

A 34-year-old woman has been told she faces jail after she admitted embezzling more than £90,000 in cash and taking £147,000 worth of drugs and other items from the Crown Office.

The High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh

Katherine Vaughan, 34, has admitted to embezzling the significant sum of money along with other goods equating to almost £150,000 when she was an employee at the Crown Office.

She appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh on Wednesday and her guilty plea was entered by her lawyer, Ximena Vengoechea.

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The court heard the 34-year-old, from Aberdeen, worked as a production keeper for the Crown Office in the city when she took £91,832.82 between January 1 2011 and September 27 2019, as well as a wide range of other items.

All of the items had been lodged during the course of criminal investigations and it was her job to keep them safe.

Her crimes began to unfold after Crown Office administration manager Kelly Goate made plans to rotate staff to give them a broader experience.

When told of her intention to move her position on September 24 2019, it was heard Vaughan became emotional.

The court was told she then approached Ms Goate to tell her the production store had been left open at the weekend.

A police investigation was sparked when it was found that items had been tampered with and an interview was carried out with Vaughan on September 27, 2019.

Alex Prentice QC, for the Crown, said: “At that point, Vaughan spontaneously stated that she suffered from mental health issues, that she had been stealing cash productions from the production store throughout the year to subsidise her income, and that there were further cash productions in her home address.”

It was heard subsequent searches at her Great Northern Road home saw substantial amounts of money recovered, as well as £147,720 worth of drugs and other items.

These included sanitary pads, a stun gun, cigarette ends, chewing gum, jewellery, cling film and a safe.

Mr Prentice told the court it is not clear what happened to the money she embezzled, although it is possible she “squandered” it.

It was also heard that Vaughan – who has since been working at restaurant chain Nando’s – did not appear to have taken the drugs for profit or use.

The substances included crack cocaine, cocaine, MDMA and cannabis.

Ms Vengoechea asked judge Lord Beckett to adjourn the case for eight weeks to allow more time for psychiatric reports to shed light on her client’s mental health, however only four weeks were given.

The judge told Vaughan: “You have pled guilty to extremely serious criminal conduct, the court does not know the whole background.

“But whatever that background, this amounts to extremely serious criminal conduct.

“Given the gravity of this case and the inevitable prison sentence, I don’t consider it appropriate to continue bail and you will be remanded in custody.”

The case is due to recall on October 28 at the same court once further psychiatric evaluations have taken place in the coming month.