A former medical secretary who embezzled more than £8,000 from the practice she worked at has been ordered to carry out unpaid work.
Fiona Forsyth, 42, appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court for sentencing after previously admitting taking funds from a petty cash box between 2015 and 2017 when she worked at Peterculter Medical Practice.
Forsyth originally denied a charge of embezzling £25,048 but changed her position and accepted during her trial that she took £8,040 from the practice.
A sentencing hearing took place yesterday after Sheriff Ian Wallace read a criminal justice social work report.
Forsyth, whose address was given as Dalmaik Terrace, Peterculter, was caught when practice manager Christine Dowall turned detective in January 2017 after going to the petty cash box for money for some milk and discovering more than £100 missing.
It was Forsyth’s job to ensure cash going in and out of the box was recorded on a spreadsheet.
Ms Dowall told the court she knew something was wrong as she put in £200 in December 2016, but only £60 was left a month later.
She confronted Forsyth, who initially tried to brush it off, but then wrote to the practice, saying: “I got myself into such a mess.”
The envelope contained £2,500 in cash. Forsyth resigned by email the same day.
Defence agent Paul Barnett told the court Forsyth’s marriage broke down due to the crime and she quit her most recent job as a care assistant in January after pleading guilty to the offence.
Mr Barnett said: “This has had a catastrophic impact on her personal life. She now finds herself unemployed. She is now separated from her partner because of these proceedings.
“She accepts responsibility for the offences and feels remorse.
“She is deeply embarrassed and ashamed.”
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Evening Express newsletter
He added Forsyth had been in an abusive relationship with her ex-partner, who controlled what money she had access to.
“However, that does not excuse her actions,” said Mr Barnett.
Sheriff Wallace said: “This involved a significant breach of trust. I accept this conviction has had a significant impact on you but nevertheless it is a very serious offence.”
He ordered Forsyth to do 250 hours of unpaid work within nine months and to abide by the terms of a nine-month supervision order. A hearing is to take place on March 21 to establish if Forsyth should have to repay the practice.
During the trial, Ms Dowall told the court the practice’s financial policies had been “tightened up significantly” to ensure there could be no repeat.
After the hearing, a spokesman for Aberdeen Health and Social Care Partnership said the practice did not wish to comment.
Forsyth declined to comment.