Jailed councillor to pay back embezzled money

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Jack Downie, an Aberdeen City Council team leader jailed for two years for embezzling almost £400,000 from a Scottish local authority, has had half the money confiscated by the Crown.

• Aberdeen Sheriff Court granted a Confiscation Order for £187,300

• Downie was sentenced to two years imprisonment in March last year

Jack Downie, an Aberdeen City Council team leader, used his position to pay cash into the bank accounts of his elderly mother and a male friend and buy cars, designer watches and luxury holidays.

He was sentenced to two years imprisonment at Aberdeen Sheriff Court in March last year after he admitting embezzling a total of £386,004 between August 2006 and September 2010.

And at Aberdeen Sheriff Court today a Confiscation Order for £187,300 was granted against Downie under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Lindsey Miller, head of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service’s Serious and Organised Crime Division, said: “Jack Downie embezzled hundreds of thousands of pounds from the public purse for over four years. This was a significant breach of trust where he betrayed the responsibility of his position and stole from the public he was supposed to be serving.

“We are satisfied that this £187,300 confiscation order represents the amount of money available to us at this time, on the basis that is the total value of his assets he can sell to pay the order.”

She added: “This money will be added to the £60 million already gathered from Proceeds of Crime and will be re-invested by Scottish Ministers through the CashBack for Communities programme.”

The court was told last March that Downie had been responsible for processing lump-sum payments to retiring teachers. But he started forging documents and signatures to deposit 15 separate cash sums into bank accounts over a four-year period while working within the education, culture and sport department. He paid £278,000 into the account of his elderly mother and another £20,000 into another account in her name.

Downie, 45, also transferred £89,000 into the bank account of Berwickshire horse trainer Richard Telford, 47, who the court heard he regarded as “the brother he never had.”

He had been forging the signature of the council’s director of finance and using national insurance numbers of real teachers employed by the city council. But his defence counsel claimed Downie’s behaviour was a result of a bipolar disorder.