Tayside and Central Scotland

Law firm worker jailed for £56,000 fraud and embezzlement

Alison Jackson Image copyright Alan Richardson
Image caption A sheriff told Alison Jackson that prison was the only appropriate sentence

A law firm paralegal who embezzled more than £40,000 from the estate of her ex-husband's great aunt has been jailed for 13 months.

Alison Jackson also failed to tell a pension company of the woman's death and transferred £12,641 of payments into her own account.

A court heard £21,000 had been repaid but further payments were "unlikely".

A sheriff told the 44-year-old from Arbroath that only a prison sentence was appropriate in the circumstances.

The fraud was uncovered when solicitors Thorntons audited Jackson's clients' accounts after her resignation.

Paid off debts

Dundee Sheriff Court was previously told that Jackson was granted power of attorney and put in charge of Lillian Grant's finances in 2006.

When Mrs Grant died in 2012, Jackson gave her ex-husband £1,500 and told him that was all that was left in the estate.

However, Jackson was using Mrs Grant's money to pay off bills for payday loan debts, store cards and credit cards.

Depute fiscal Eilidh Robertson told the court that Jackson embezzled £3,073 from Thorntons, £40,403 from Mrs Grant's estate and £12,641 from the Cadbury's pension scheme.

Miss Robertson said the monthly pension from Cadbury had been paid for almost three years until police told the company of Mrs Grant's death.

'Unsophisticated attempt'

Jackson admitted two charges of embezzlement and one of fraud.

Solicitor advocate Kris Gilmartin, defending, said Mrs Grant's family did not want Jackson to go to prison due to the effect it would have on her family.

Mr Gilmartin said: "This was an unsophisticated attempt at a fraudulent act and said she had little or no prospect of being successful.

"It would obviously be preferable for her if a non-custodial disposal could be found.

"But she accepts she has put herself in this position."

Sheriff Alastair Carmichael told Jackson: "You were in a position of trust as a paralegal and you committed a fraud on a pension fund which inevitably has knock-on consequences for other people who pay into it.

"I've taken into account your level of repayment and your family circumstances.

"However, I've concluded that the only appropriate sentence due to the value here is custody."

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