A SENIOR social worker pretended to be her sick mother to pocket nearly £35,000 – which she spent on private school fees and debts.
Elaine Bell betrayed her mother, Helena Logue, while caring for her at her home in Stockbridge.
Bell, who has since been sacked by the city council, used Mrs Logue’s name to apply for loans and bank transfers to the tune of £33,500.
She spent the “bulk” of the cash on settling debt and paying private school fees for her children, however she also spent some of it while abroad.
The 50-year-old, who pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud last month, was ordered to pay back the cash when she appeared for sentence yesterday.
Sheriff Frank Crowe told Bell that her behaviour between August 2011 and March 2013 was “despicable”.
Bell’s solicitor, Elspeth McPartlin, said she had “extreme remorse” for the crimes and that she had initially intended to pay her mother back.
Ms McPartlin said: “As her mother became more infirm, she became her mother’s carer.
“Debts were spiralling out of control, her husband was suffering poor mental health and their family home was lost to them.
“This combination created an enormous amount of financial and emotional pressure.”
She added: “She is somebody who has spent most of her life looking after others. She had worked extremely hard to become a senior social worker and became well-respected in her field.”
Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard that Bell had been suffering poor health and no longer had “any meaningful relationship” with her mother since her fraud came to light.
Sheriff Crowe said he would have considered prison but he recognised Bell had done “a lot of good” in her life and took account of her health issues. He said: “We have tonnes of cases of this sort in this court every week, many of them miniscule in comparison. This lady has not made it easy for herself.”
He told Bell: “It’s a terrible story, this case, with tragedies all round.
“You have not been in bother previously.
“There is lots of good that you have carried out in your life but you must accept that this was despicable and I think it came to the stage where you felt justified in taking the money when you were not entitled.
“Money was stolen from your disabled mother and you shouldn’t forget that.”
Mrs Logue has been reimbursed by the banks, but Bell was ordered to pay them back the £33,500 in compensation over the next two years, paying the first £2000 by April 9.
She was also given an eight-month restriction of liberty order, which will require her to stay within her Ferry Road home between 7pm and 7am.