Former employee of legal firm receives community service over embezzlement

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A FORMER employee of top legal firm, Maclay Murray & Spens, who embezzled over £5000 while working at their office in Edinburgh’s George Street, has been ordered to perform 166 hours of unpaid work in the community for what a Sheriff described as “a significant breach of trust”.

Thirty-three year old Karen Ward of Comely Bank Avenue, Edinburgh, had pled guilty previously to embezzling £5505.09 between March 10, 2010, and July 19 last year. Sheriff Neil Mackinnon deferred sentence until today for background reports.

Defence solicitor, Cheryl Beattie, told Sheriff Mackinnon that cheques for the total amount taken had been sent to the company three months ago and had been cashed within a couple of days.

The Social Work report, she said, highlighted the significant difficulties Ward had leading up to and during the time of her offending.. Ms Beattie said faced with debt there seemed no way out and her client had easy access to the money. She was extremely embarrassed and had repaid the money. The report, said the solicitor, assessed Ward as being extremely unlikely to re-offend.

Because of the early guilty plea and the fact that all the money had been repaid, he was, however, able to deal with it by way of a Community Payback Order. He reduced 250 hours of unpaid work to 166 and allowed six months for the completion of the order.