Stenhousemuir offender took £10,000 from children’s charity fund to help pay for her divorce

A charity finance chief who helped herself to £10,000 meant for needy children used some of the cash to pay for her divorce.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 1:45 pm

First offender Alison Brown (54), Maple Avenue, Stenhousemuir, had admitted draining off the money from Aberlour Childcare Trust donations account between October 4, 2017 and October 19, 2018 while she worked at the charity’s former HQ in Park Terrace, Stirling and appeared at Stirling Sheriff Court yesterday (Wednesday) to be sentenced.

Liam McGuigan, procurator fiscal depute, said the money was found missing in an audit in May last year.

On September 5, 2019 Brown approached witnesses who worked at the charity and disclosed she had transferred two sums of £5000 each into an account to cover the legal fees for her divorce.

Stirling Sheriff Court

The court heard Brown, who was sacked from her role with the charity, had paid back what she owed.

Defence solicitor Simon Hutchison said Brown had been concerned if she couldn’t pay her lawyer and he withdrew from acting, her divorce proceedings from her “controlling” now-former husband might have been “elongated”.

He said: “After ten years having had very little relations and sleeping in separate bedrooms, Mrs Brown had enough and went to see a solicitor and filed for divorce. Her husband delayed, and her solicitor quite rightly was asking for his fees to be paid.

“She wasn’t able to do that and she took this money from the Trust to pay her legal fees. She took the view that if her solicitor withdrew from acting because he hadn’t been paid this would have elongated the proceedings.

“It was she who went to her bosses and told them what she had done. The Trust has not suffered financially.”

Mr Hutchison said Brown, the mother of a teenage boy, had worked for the charity for 22 years.

He added that “quite surprisingly” the Trust had produced a reference for the court, saying she had been “a valued employee and well like member of staff with no previous conduct issues”.

He said: “She accepts this is a very serious breach of trust.”

Ordering Brown to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, Sheriff Wyllie Robertson said it was “significant” Brown had gone to her employers before they came to her.

He told her: “This is a serious matter that would normally mean a custodial sentence, especially where a charity is involved. I can deal with this, just, with an alternative to custody given your previous unblemished record.”