A north-east medical secretary has been accused of embezzling more than £25,000 from work.
Fiona Forsyth, 42, was working at Peterculter Medical Practice on Coronation Road in early 2017 when bosses found £25,048 unaccounted for in the books.
Forsyth was charged with embezzling the cash between January 2009 and February 2017. She denies the charge.
Her trial began at Aberdeen Sheriff Court yesterday and witness Christine Dowall – the practice manager – revealed how the issue came to light over a carton of milk and a Christmas night out.
Ms Dowall, 47, told the court Forsyth was responsible for ensuring cash going in and out of a petty cash box was recorded on a spreadsheet.
When the funds fell low, Forsyth would ask Ms Dowall to put in more cash – and Ms Dowall said she put in £200 in December 2016.
Then on January 30 2017, Ms Dowall opened the box as she needed to buy milk – and found only £60 left.
Ms Dowall said: “I instantly knew something was wrong. The money didn’t add up.”
According to Ms Dowall, Forsyth originally denied anything was amiss, claiming she was unaware one aspect of the practice’s record-keeping existed.
“I knew that wasn’t correct because I had seen her record payments (there).
“A few weeks earlier, she recorded £60 there for the dental girls’ Christmas night out,” said Ms Dowall.
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Several days after being confronted, Forsyth put £2,500 in an envelope and gave it to a member of practice staff, the court heard.
A letter in the envelope, read out in court, said: “I got myself into such a mess. Over the last year at work, I’ve lost it. I didn’t know what to do.
“I’ve let you all down.”
Forsyth – whose address was given as Dalmaik Terrace, Peterculter – added in the letter that her partner had asked her to leave their home and she did not know how to tell her children or parents about her work standards falling as she felt ashamed.
She resigned by email later that week.
When questioned by defence counsel Paul Barnett, Ms Dowall accepted more than 20 staff members had access to the cash box and were trusted to record what was put in and taken out.
He asked: “Is it right that Mrs Forsyth couldn’t have been expected to keep track of that? It would have been easy for someone to take money out of the box and not leave a note, leaving a deficit.”
Ms Dowall answered: “Yes.”
The trial was adjourned until January 8.