Swindling church treasurer avoids jail sentence

| April 16, 2010

A woman who swindled £34,000 from a church while she was treasurer wept in the dock as she avoided a jail sentence.

Sheriff Celia Sanderson told Rosemary Reid, 56, what she had done was "unforgivable" and that offences such as this "almost always attracted a custodial sentence".

However the sheriff noted Reid, a first offender, had been described by a social worker as at a new level of low risk of re-offending and instead ordered her to carry out 240 hours of community service.

Fiscal depute Trevor Smith told Edinburgh Sheriff Court it had become apparent there was a shortfall in the accounts at the city's Slateford Longstone Parish Church where Reid was the treasurer.

He said: "The accused was requested to attend a meeting with the board of the church which she failed to attend and the board received an e-mail from Reid stating she wished to resign from her post."

The court heard an investigation was carried out and when Reid was spoken to by police she admitted paying a number of cheques into her own account over a period of three years.

Mr Smith said: "She told police she had paid some of the money back and was making efforts to pay more to clear her debt with the church but couldn't really give any explanation for doing this in the first place."

Reid, of Redhall Gardens, Edinburgh, admitted embezzling £34,100 from the Kingsknowe Road North church, between June 1 2006, and July 31 last year.

Defence agent Dianne Moore said: "This is an extremely serious matter, my client is under no illusions but it is such an unusual situation. She has brought up two children largely on her own and has also cared for her parents."

Mrs Moore told the court Reid had always thought of others and had been gainfully employed by the Red Cross for a number of years as well as working for the charity as a volunteer.

She said: "Her parents became sick and she had to care for them, she had building work done and she owed them £19,000 and in desperation and stupidity she took the money."

The solicitor said she had paid back £8,100 and had put her house on the market and was desperate to sell it. She also said there was an inhibition on the property so when it was sold the church would get its money back.

Passing sentence Sheriff Sanderson told Reid that if the community service was not carried out she would be brought back to court and sent to prison.



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Category: Church Security

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