Thieving West Lothian nursery worker claims 'need not greed' made her embezzle £4.5k from employers

A thieving nursery worker claimed it was ‘need not greed’ that made her embezzle thousands of pounds from her employers.

By Vic Rodrick
Friday, 6th September 2019, 2:44 pm
The Wee Gems Armadale Nursery. Pic: Google Maps.

Dee Harris claimed she was struggling financially and unable to pay household bills when she ‘borrowed’ a credit card from The Wee Gems nursery in West Lothian in June last year.

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She was caught after the nursery chain’s finance director noticed unusual transactions on the nursery’s credit card account and phoned the Armadale branch manager on 20 August 2018.

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The Wee Gems Armadale Nursery. Pic: Google Maps.

The manager inspected recent bank statements and noticed a series of unauthorised cash withdrawals between 5 June and 18 August.

When police arrived at the nursery in Dunnet Way, Harris was pacing the hallway looking “panicked” and sweating. `She told her manager she wasn’t felling well but later confessed: “It was me that took the money.”

When Harris was interviewed under caution she made a full admission of guilt to detectives.

Jane Rennie, prosecuting, told Livingston Sheriff Court: “She stated she did it to try and get herself out of financial difficulties.

“She had taken the card without permission from a drawer in the nursery then returned it.”

Harris, 39, of Ewart Avenue, Armadale, pled guilty to a charge of embezzlement.

James Walker, defending, said his client had been employed by the nursery for three years before the offence but she and her husband had got into financial difficulty.

He explained: “She was in charge of the family finances and simply found herself in a desperate situation where she was unable to meet the expense of household bills and such like.

“Unfortunately she took the decision to take advantage of this credit card and she advises that the cash removed from the credit card was for the purpose of paying bills.

“Mrs Harris is deeply ashamed by her behaviour. She indicated to her employer she fully intended to make full repayment of the sum liable but her offer was refused.

“She is able to pay GBP500 today and thereafter 12 instalments of £333 per month.”

Sheriff Kenneth McIver said he would defer sentence to give Harris a chance to repay some of the cash.

He told her: “You were effectively robbing Peter to pay Paul. It never works because it’s always going to catch up with you, and that’s what happened here.

“Somebody has lost here as a result of your greed and your failure to manage your own affairs properly. There’s a second issue of criminal dishonesty for which the court has to decide punishment.

“You’ve effectively stolen a credit card in order to steal funds so there’s an issue of trust which merits a custodial sentence so people understand the importance of that trust between employer and employee.”

He ordered the accused to pay the initial £500 by 4pm plus further instalments of £350 to the nursery for each of the next three months.

He told her: “You’ll come back to court in early December with those receipts and the court will decide whether it’s appropriate to make a compensation order and any other disposal may be decided.

“Let me make it clear that all options remain open to the court but you will place yourself in a much better position if you carry through the court’s order.”

Harris is die to be sentenced on 6 December.