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Court / Boating club fraud nets supervision for embezzler

A WOMAN who embezzled over £14,000 while being the treasurer of Ness Boating Club has been ordered to complete 100 hours unpaid work with 16 months of supervision.

Hazel Bairnson, 53, of Sandveien in Lerwick, was also ordered to pay the boating club £450 in compensation after admitting the fraud, which took place between 28 February 2018 and 15 January last year.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard on Wednesday that Bairnson had presented 21 separate cheques worth £14,216.88 at the Ness Boating Club in Virkie, at Santander Bank on Commercial Street and elsewhere.

She had subsequently paid back all the money.

Procurator fiscal Duncan McKenzie said the fraud came to light when Bairnson presented the boating club books to accountants for audit.

She immediately owned up to what she had been doing when the discrepancy was questioned.

Tommy Allan, defending, said that Bairnson did not try to hide the fact that she had taken money and she had meant to repay it.

He added: “Often these things get out of hand and once the ball starts rolling it is difficult to get it to stop.”

Bairnson, he said, had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, already had a “rough ride in the high court of social media.”

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank described it as a “breach of trust” but mitigating factors were that Bairnson has accepted full responsibility.

She also realised that her actions had been of longer term harm to the boating club, he said.

It was her first offence and a social inquiry report said there was little chance of her reoffending.