Former committee treasurer who embezzled £15,000 was told
yesterday she had escaped a jail sentence only because she had
repaid the money.
Moray mother-of-three Kathleen
Fraser, 44, was told she would ordinarily have faced a prison
sentence of nine months to a year.
But Sheriff Ian
Cameron said he would fine her after learning that Fraser had
borrowed money from relatives to make full restitution to the
Duffus Village Hall committee.
Fraser was fined £1,250,
which she will have to pay at £25 a week from the incapacity
benefit she and her husband receive.
Simon Booker-Milburn, handed over a cheque for £15,000 in
favour of the hall committee when Fraser appeared for sentence
at Elgin Sheriff Court yesterday.
told Sheriff Cameron that Fraser had borrowed the money from
The funds were embezzled between June,
1997, and September, 2001, while Fraser was treasurer of
She was appointed to the post shortly
after the hall was destroyed by fire and a fundraising
campaign was launched to build a replacement.
the £330,000 for the new hall came from insurance payouts and
In her role as treasurer, Fraser handled six
separate bank accounts.
Cheques had to be countersigned
by two other committee members but Fraser, of 21 Hopeman Road,
Duffus, falsified the signatures before cashing the
The court was told that she had used the
embezzled money to cover everyday expenses.
Booker-Milburn said Fraser received £140 every fortnight in
incapacity benefit, while her husband, a manic depressive,
received £161 plus £250 per month disability living
Sheriff Cameron told Fraser, who admitted
the embezzlement, that what she had done was
"What made it worse was the sheer amount of the
sum that was taken," he said.
"I accept that you appear
as a first offender, but having regard to the amount involved,
if it had not been repaid you would have gone to prison for a
year, or at least nine months."
Three members of the
Duffus hall committee were in court to see Fraser sentenced.
They refused to comment, but issued a statement on the
It said Fraser had not apologised
for her actions, given any explanation or shown any remorse,
and had let down the entire community because she had been in
a position of trust as hall treasurer.
of £15,000 will go some way towards paying off the loan the
committee had to arrange two years ago to save the hall from
closure, which would have happened as a result of her criminal
"However, it will take the Duffus community
several years of fundraising to pay off the balance of the
"The committee would like to thank the villagers
and the wider community for their support during this very
difficult and stressful period, and hope they will continue to
do so while we put the hall back on a sound financial
The statement said auditors who were appointed
at the time the discrepancies were first discovered in the
accounts had found more than £30,000 missing.
"Subsequently, the procurator fiscal decided that Mrs Fraser
be charged with embezzlement. Mrs Fraser pleaded guilty to the
sum of £15,000."