Fraudster jailed over £131,000 swindle
An Ai rdrie man who fraudulently obtained more than £ 130,000 from his employer has been jailed.
Robert Stewart, 49, wangled his way into a £49,000-a-year job after falsely claiming to have a degree in accountancy from St Andrew’s University. He subsequently ripped off almost £131,000 from his employers.
At Edinburgh Sheri f f Court yesterday, Stewart, who appeared from custody, was jailed for 21 months and ordered to pay back all of the money within 12 months through the sale of his Cairnhill home.
The con man had previously pled guilty to embezzling £130,956 from his employers, Cash Generator and The Cheque Centre of Bankhead Crossway North, Edinburgh, between August 2011, and October 2013. Sentence had been deferred for reports.
At the previous hearing, Sheriff Donald Corke heard that the company’s managing director received a letter, “suggesting perhaps they might like to look into the accused’s claims, as he didn’t appear to be what he said he was and his qualifications might not be genuine”.
An inquiry was held and the company discovered Stewart was indeed not what
he presented himself to be. A meeting was called but Stewart went off sick, then took annual leave and finally tendered his resignation. Despite this, his employers dismissed him.
An audit was carried out and it revealed that numerous payments had been made into accounts held by him.
At yesterday’s hearing, Sheriff Corke was told that Stewart’s attempts to sell his house had been unsuccessful. The sheriff pointed out that the case had first been called in May 2014, and at a first diet in July that year, Stewart pled guilty.
His wife died of cancer in June 2015, and Stewart made repeated promises to sell the house but refused offers from a family member and a friend.
He then failed to make a court appearance in 2015 and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was remanded in custody in August this year.
Sheriff Corke told him: “You did not try to use the time to raise the money.” He said that Stewart had appeared at Dumbarton Sheriff Court in 1992 on two charges of fraud, when a sentence of 18 months was reduced to 240 hours under a community payback order.
“You had a warning then,” said Sheriff Corke.
Referring to the present case, the sheriff said: “You were taken on as an accountant on the strength of a nonexistent graduation from St Andrew’s University and, in a course of criminal conduct which only came to light by a letter, you took and squandered a substantial amount of money.
“Given your record and the nature of the offence, which involves a substantial breach of trust, and failing to take advantage of various opportunities given by the court to pay back the money, only a custodial sentence is appropriate.”
Sheriff Corke told him a sentence of 24 months would be reduced to 21 months as the guilty plea had avoided a trial. But he imposed a compensation order for £130,956 to be paid to the companies within 12 months.
“That should be sufficient time for you to sell your house,” the sheriff said.
Jailed Stewart was given 21 months