Waverley Station crook helped himself to cancer victim's wages
A crooked postmaster who embezzled more than £38,000 by collecting wages paid in the name of a cancer victim has escaped prison.
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Eric Lavender, 60, stole the cash after he arranged for the stricken woman’s salary to be paid into a bank account he had set up in her name.
Devious Lavender - who was working for a waste management firm at Edinburgh Waverley - then transferred the funds into his own bank account.
The woman had completed just one trial shift with the company before being unable to to continue in the role due to her illness.
The scam was discovered after she was investigated by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which believed she had been working while claiming benefits.
Lavender, who has also run the village post office in Walkerburn in the Borders with his wife for the past decade, admitted embezzling £38,960.23 between February 2016 and 2017 when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.
Solicitor Neil Hay, defending, told the court that Lavender was aware there was “a breach of trust” involved in his crime but that he is “remorseful and ashamed” at his conduct.
Mr Hay said the grandad had found himself in “financial difficulties” concerning a commercial activity and had “greatly underestimated the sums involved” in the project.
He continued: “He was to some extent driven to commit an act to try and rehabilitate this project having run out of his own funds.”
The lawyer added the crime was “not committed to pay for luxuries” and that Lavender had worked with the Royal Mail for many years and planned to continue working at the village post office.
The court heard Lavender has £31,000 in savings to pay back the embezzled cash and will repay the remainder at £800 per month until the arrears are cleared.
Sheriff Kenneth Campbell QC said Lavender had carried out “a deliberate crime” and that he had “deceived” his employers for personal gain,
But the sheriff stopped short of jailing Lavender and instead he was placed on a supervision order for 18 months and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.
He was also made subject to an eight-month restriction of liberty order meaning he must stay within his home between 8pm and 6am.
The sheriff also issued a compensation order for the sum of £38,960.
Previously the court heard Lavender, from Walkerburn, was working with the company Interserve who provide services such as waste management at the capital’s main train station.
Prosecutor Rosie Cook said an ex-employee was forced to quit her job due to poor health in 2016.
A Santander bank account had been set up in her name and Lavender soon began transferring payments into his own account.
The fiscal said the DWP set up an investigation into the woman which was said to have caused her “considerable stress” before she was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.
Ms Cook added numerous bank transfers were found to have been made to Lavender’s own account while he also withdrew cash from ATMs, many of them at Waverley station.