A DEBT-RIDDEN north-east banker who embezzled more than £36,000 from elderly family friends has been jailed.
Alison Allan was sentenced to 16 months for stealing from two pensioners who trusted her implicitly.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard the 57-year-old – who targeted the couple over two years – committed the “nasty” crime to pay off mounting credit card debts. She believed it would be a “short-term solution” to her money problems.
However, once she started to take the cash, the situation began to spiral out of control.
Yesterday, Sheriff Graham Buchanan told the shamed former Clydesdale Bank worker that there was no other option for him than to send her to jail.
He said he had to send a message to the public that crimes that were a “gross breach of trust” would almost certainly result in a custodial sentence.
The court heard previously that Allan’s victims, Dorothea Buschman and William Smith, were her close friends and would normally ask her to deal with their accounts.
After Allan first appeared in court and admitted the offence, Mrs Buschman, who knew Allan’s mother, said she was uneasy at the thought of the banker being sent to jail.
She said: “I feel horrible at the idea that she may go to prison – especially on behalf of her mother.
“I can’t drum up a great deal of hatred for her and money is only money,” she said. “If she had to go to jail, that would really worry me but it’s not up to me to forgive her.”
Allan, of The Cottar House, Mains of Drumtochty, Auchenblae, embezzled the cash between March 23, 2011, and February 19, 2013.
On March 27 last year, Mrs Buschman visited the bank in Ann Street, Stonehaven, to withdraw some money.
As Allan was not at work, another member of staff served the 90-year-old.
The court heard the customer informed the teller that she had not received any bank statements for several months.
It was then discovered that Mrs Buschman’s address had been changed to the bank in Stonehaven without her knowledge.
After Mrs Buschman was given access to her backdated statements, she noticed a number of withdrawals had been made for which she was not responsible.
She then contacted the bank manager and initial checks showed that most of the unexplained transactions had occurred around closing time using Allan’s unique identification number. Eight randomly selected CCTV clips were then chosen and they showed Allan had been alone at the counter each time the transactions were made.
A bank fraud investigator established that the unauthorised withdrawals from Mrs Buschman’s account amounted to £30,405.
Checks were made on accounts held by Mr Smith, Mrs Buschman’s late partner. It was discovered that Allan had also targeted him. About £6,000 was embezzled from his account.
The court heard previously that Allan had admitted “misappropriating” the funds from the accounts under questioning by her boss.
And when asked for an explanation, she said she had several outstanding credit cards and loans.
She told police: “It had seemed like a short-term solution but spiralled out of control.”
The bank repaid all the money and Allan was dismissed on April 19 last year.
Sentencing Allan yesterday, Sheriff Buchanan said only custody would be an “appropriate punishment” given the “gross breach of trust”.
He said: “Of course, people who work in banks handling money must be entirely trustworthy and it has been pointed out in this case, what you did here over a period of almost two years amounts to a gross breach of trust.
“Given the identities of the people whose accounts were interfered with, it is clear to me it was particularly nasty behaviour on your part.”
He said the sentence was necessary to make it clear to others that conduct of this kind would almost inevitably lead to jail.”