Mother jailed after double con nets £53,000

A MOTHER of four who embezzled more than £53,000 from her employers has been jailed for 18 months for what a sheriff described as “a grave breach of trust”.

Lorna Brand had pleaded guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court to taking £25,734 while employed by GWC (UK) Ltd in West Calder, West Lothian, between November 2007 and November 2008.

She also admitted embezzling £27,433.58 while working for Jefcoate Anderson Architects Ltd and Lothian Design and Build Ltd in Penicuik between June 2009 and April 2010.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Sentence was deferred until yesterday for background reports.

Brand was in charge of writing cheques, payment to staff and dealing with customers at GWC.

She was caught in November 2008 when the company’s managing director received a call from the bank querying a cheque addressed to her and placed in a joint bank account she held with her husband.

Brand was dismissed by the company but the matter was not reported to the police.

In May 2009 Brand took a job with the Penicuik firm and began operating the same scam in June of that year.

Her employers found that in April 2010 a cheque that was meant to have been sent to HM Revenue and Customs had been made payable to her and paid into her own account, and she was arrested.

The court heard that her husband had no knowledge of the embezzlements.

Defending, Mark Harrower said the couple had built up debts of around £40,000.

At one stage their joint bank account had been frozen because of non-payment of council tax.

Mr Harrower said Brand’s husband was often working away from home at the time of the offences and that he was addicted to gambling.

He said the couple had been separated for two years, but there had been some improvement in their relationship in recent months. and Mr Brand was in court to support his wife.

Mr Harrower said Brand’s husband accepted his gambling addiction had contributed to the debt problem and had paid £5,000 to GWC.

Two cheques valued at £5,933.13 had been held by a bank and returned to Jefcoate Anderson, Mr Harrower said. This meant the amount still owing to the firms was £42,234.45.

Brand, he added, was offering to pay compensation at the minimum rate of £200 a month, mostly provided by her husband, a taxi driver who was expecting about £5,000 from an insurance claim on a taxi which had been written off. He was also in line for a criminal injuries award following an assault on him by a passenger. Mr Harrower said he was willing to hand over that money in compensation.

Sheriff James Scott said he took into account Brand’s full co-operation with the police, her guilty plea and the fact that she was a first offender.

However he said it was an embezzlement of a substantial sum of money and a grave breach of trust in respect of both employers, and only a custodial sentence was appropriate.

He sentenced her to 18 months on both charges to run concurrently.