Prison no surprise for man who admited cheque scam

James Baillie was jailed for seven months at Falkirk Sheriff Court
James Baillie was jailed for seven months at Falkirk Sheriff Court

James Baillie packed a bag before heading to court last Thursday – expecting he would be going to prison rather than home after his appearance.

And the 37-year-old was not wrong when he was jailed for seven months for being involved in a cheque scam that could have cost a 
company thousands of pounds.

The repeat offender paid a cheque from Macloch Construction Limited of Grangemouth made out for £4250 into his account.

But, although it had been signed by a company director, it made bank staff suspicious and the police were alerted.

Falkirk Sheriff Court was told last Thursday that a number of cheque books held in the company’s office safe had gone missing and police inquiries were ongoing when Baillie tried to deposit one at his branch on November 6 last year.

Officers arrived at his house to take him to the police station for questioning and on the way Baillie asked them: “It’s about the cheque I put into the bank isn’t it?”

He then claimed he had been told by other people who have never been identified that if he deposited the cheque he would be allowed to keep half the money.

As it turned out, he never saw a penny because the rogue cheque was identified by the bank as stolen and never cleared.

At an earlier court Baillie, from 20F Kerse Road, Grangemouth, had admitted that on November 6, 2015, at the Bank of Scotland, 24 La Porte Precinct, Grangemouth, while acting with others, had presented the cheque as genuine having altered it by inserting an amount of £4250.

Defence lawyer Stephen Biggam said: “It was not the most sophisticated attempt to get money.

‘‘It was an act of desperation that was always likely to fail.

“He had been doing his best to stay out of trouble, but had been facing difficulties for some time.

He added: “He expects the worst and come to court today with his bag.”

Sheriff Caldwell took into account Baillie’s early plea by reducing the jail time by five months.

But he told him: “This was a serious and significant offence that potentially could have seen a company lose a substantial sum of money.

“Given your history there is no prospect whatsoever of a community-based disposal.”