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Mother from Ardersier punished for stealing nearly £12,000 from Forres newsagent

By Court Reporter

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McColl's at 1 Fleurs Place.
McColl's at 1 Fleurs Place.

A MOTHER of six who admitted embezzling nearly £12,000 from a Forres newsagent initially claimed she had lost the cash on a trip to the Post Office.

At Elgin Sheriff Court on March 19, Mandy Green (55), of Reaybank Road, Ardersier, admitted taking the cash over a period of three months from her workplace at RS McColl, in the town's Fleurs Place.

Green, a store manager at the shop for four years, was responsible for handling money, depositing and changing cash at the Post Office.

The court heard that just after Christmas last year, on December 27, Green sent an email to her area manager, saying that she wished to terminate her employment with the firm, owing to the fact that she had "lost" nearly £12,000 between the shop and the Post Office.

Green told her area manager that she had contacted police to see if anyone had handed in the money, adding that she had made a "really bad error". She said she felt "depressed, ashamed and was very sorry".

The area manager arrived to complete a cash audit, which revealed that £11,500 was unaccounted for. According to the system, funds appeared to have been moved to the Post Office but there was no paperwork to confirm this. The police were contacted.

The area manager later received a phone call from Green, who kept up her story when told that it didn't look like the money had been lost.

Green then divulged that she had taken the money to cover the cost of her son's debts.

On January 12, Green accepted in a police interview that she had taken the money. She told them: "I'm sorry. I've let everyone down. I will pay it back – it may just take some time."

In total, £11,574 was taken by Green between October 1 to December 27 last year.

Defending, solicitor Matthew O'Neill said although this was Green's first offence "it was an extremely serious matter, but an extremely sad state of affairs".

Mr O'Neill said Green, who had not been in good health and was the sole worker in her family, had been a trusted member of staff and had been highly thought of. She had been trying to stay afloat amid financial difficulties.

He said Green had been making efforts to put the cash back but it had simply escalated to the point it was too much to deal with.

Mr O'Neill said Green knew the situation had spiralled out of control and took steps to contact her employer, knowing what lay ahead.

He added that jail would have a massive impact on the family matriarch, who pled guilty at the outset.

Sheriff Gary Aitken said there was no realistic possibility of the money being paid back and told Green that the circumstances were "exceptionally serious".

Sheriff Aitken placed Green under supervision for 12 months and imposed an eight-month restriction of liberty order as an alternative to custody.

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