Jewel thief cleaner told to pay £10,000 to OAP victim

Cleaner Catherine Abercrombie leaves Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Picture Toby Williams
Cleaner Catherine Abercrombie leaves Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Picture Toby Williams
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A CLEANER who stole treasured family heirlooms from a pensioner has been ordered to pay her victim £10,000 in compensation after she “narrowly” escaped jail.

Catherine Abercrombie “helped herself” to the elderly widow’s jewellery, not long after she started working in her Priestfield home earlier this year.

The 48-year-old sold on the snatched sentimental treasures to a local pawn shop.

Among the items stolen was a diamond pendant, diamond, pearl and signet rings, two watches, a solid gold bracelet, pearl bracelet and a brooch.

The majority of the jewellery was heirlooms which had been passed down through generations of the pensioner’s family.

The victim first became suspicious when she returned home from a trip to find that precious jewels had gone missing from her bedroom.

Abercrombie, of St Patrick Square, Newington, appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday for sentencing after previously pleading guilty to stealing the jewellery from the elderly woman’s home between February 1 and March 25 this year.

Her defence lawyer, Nigel Bruce, told the court his client had attended “four or five different banks” in a bid to secure a loan to pay the pensioner compensation, but as she is unemployed, nobody would lend to her.

Mr Bruce said: “Since the case last called, her father has been in touch with my office.

“I have spoken to Mr Abercrombie and the situation is that money for compensation can be made available from his limited savings.

“It is simply a case of the money being transferred from his bank account into the complainer’s.”

Mr Bruce added: “Mr Abercrombie has asked me to apologise to the court for his daughter’s behaviour.”

As Abercrombie stood in the dock, Sheriff Donald Cork told her: “Stealing someone’s jewellery is a mean thing to do.

“It often has sentimental value as well as a monetary value.”

He said: “It is important the victim is compensated for what you took.

“In the circumstances of this case, I am narrowly persuaded that I can deal with the matter without imposing a custodial sentence.”

Sheriff Cork sentenced Abercrombie to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work in the community, a 12-month supervision order and to pay the woman £10,000 in compensation.

The victim, who asked not to be named, told the Evening News: “She stole some good things but I can’t help but feel £10,000 is a bit much.

“I would much rather have the jewellery back than the money – that’s what really hurts. If her family is in a position to pay, she’s perhaps not as destitute as I thought she was.”

The woman previously told the News she had “actually liked” the cleaner.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com