A MUM who snatched almost £8000 in Christmas savings from a group of cleaners will be forced to pay back every penny.
Eileen Fegan, of Gracemount Drive, secretly spent cash her colleagues had been hoping to use to buy presents for their children – and then claimed she had been mugged to cover up her crime.
The 58-year-old was yesterday handed a three-year community payback order at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, as eight of the women she stole from looked on in the public gallery.
Fegan had previously worked as a cleaner at the James Clerk Maxwell Building in Edinburgh University’s King’s Buildings campus.
Once known by her colleagues as a “harmless and lovely” woman, she was part of a group of 11 cleaners who put money into a savings club designed to help them keep cash aside for Christmas.
But instead of placing her friends’ money in the bank as planned, the mother-of-two hoarded the £7974 in her house and spent it.
On December 7 last year, she told her distraught colleagues she was mugged on the way to work as she was bringing the cash in to be doled out in time for the festive season.
Insisting she had been hit over the head by her attacker, she said her designer handbag had been snatched from her hands with the money inside it.
But she later admitted she had made the whole thing up. Police charged her with stealing the money and attempting to pervert the course of justice by pretending it was a robbery.
Yesterday, her former colleagues crowded into two rows of the public gallery as Fegan was told to repay £220 a month until the money was returned.
Speaking to the News after the hearing, the furious cleaners claimed Fegan had selfishly spent their hard-earned cash kitting out two bathrooms in her home – as well as on holidays to New York and Benidorm, a 50in smart television and a dishwasher.
One, who asked not to be named, said: “If she was struggling and trying to put a roof over her head, something like that, you could understand it. But it was greed, pure and simple.
“We would never have given her our money if we did not fully trust her. We would not have given her any money if we thought she was putting it in her house.”
Fegan’s defence lawyer, Steven Donald, told the court his client felt “genuine remorse” and was “absolutely mortified” at what she had done.
He said the cleaner, who worked at King’s Buildings for more than two decades before last year’s incident, had lost friends and colleagues over the crime. He added: “She has had to face the wrath of a number of people, and rightly so.”
Sheriff Frank Crowe referred to the “devastation, disappointment and horror” caused by her actions.
He said the “priority” was paying back the money she stole – but noted her early guilty plea and lack of previous convictions. Fegan declined to comment as she left the court. She will go before a sheriff again next year for a review hearing.