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Community work for woman who used charity money

A LERWICK woman who “reset” £11,000 that had been embezzled from a charity has been sentenced to 180 hours of unpaid community work.

Fifty-three-year-old Sandra Pearson, who now lives in Inverness, pleaded guilty on 9 May to the offence that took place at the Bank of Scotland in Commercial Street and elsewhere between 21 January and 24 February 2016.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard today the offence was committed while Pearson was in “dire financial stress” and she used the funds from a charity that was “lying dormant” to shore up her own financial position.

The money had been taken from the charity by another person and transferred to Pearson. 

Defence agent Gregor Kelly said that Pearson was “mortified” and that her good name in Shetland was “irredeemably damaged”.

Although a fair bit of time had been spent trying to resolve the situation internally, it was only when the police became involved that Pearson had repaid the money, with interest added.

Kelly said that Pearson’s position was that she could find the funds to repay the money if urgently required, possibly through the sale of her house in Lerwick. She had also believed that she had not committed an offence by what she had done. 

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank said that there was a huge charitable effort in Shetland that supported many good causes and involved many individuals with limited resources.

He added that he failed to see how Pearson could reach the conclusion that what she did was “in order” and the catalyst for her repayment had been the launch of the criminal investigation.

Taking account of the circumstances and a social enquiry report, the sheriff gave Pearson six months to complete the community payback order.

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