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North-east medical secretary confesses to embezzling £8,000 from employers

Fiona Forsyth outside Aberdeen Sheriff Court.
Fiona Forsyth outside Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

A north-east medical secretary who embezzled from her employers for more than two years was finally caught-out when a colleague tried to get money for milk.

She expected to find hundreds of pounds in a petty cash tin, only to discover most of the sum was missing.

A subsequent investigation at the Peterculter Medical Practice led bosses to discover an alleged £25,048 had gone missing from the books.

The finger of blame was pointed at employee Fiona Forsyth, who had responsibility for the petty cash tin.

She initially denied the accusations but a trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court was halted yesterday after the 42-year-old confessed to embezzling the lower sum of £8,040.37 between January 2015 and February 2017.

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Christine Dowall, the practice manager, told the court the issue came to light over a carton of milk and a Christmas night out.

She said Forsyth was in charge of ensuring the cash going in and out of a petty cash box was recorded on a spreadsheet.

When the amount of money inside fell low, Forsyth would ask Ms Dowall to put in more cash.

Ms Dowall said she put in £200 into the cash box in December 2016, but when the manager opened the box the following month, as she needed money for milk, she found only £60 left.

She told the court: “I instantly knew something was wrong. The money didn’t add up.”

Ms Dowall said that when she confronted Forsyth she said she was unaware of how people recorded money being taken out for specific purposes.

She said this could not be true as Forsyth had previously recorded £60 being taken out to pay for a Christmas night out.

Several days after being confronted, the court heard Forsyth had placed £2,5000 into an envelope and handed it to a member of staff.

A letter inside said, which was read out during the trial, said: “I got myself into such a mess. Over the last year at work, I’ve lost it. I didn’t know what to do.

“I’ve let you all down.”

It also said her partner had asked her to leave their home. Forsyth also admitted her work standards had fallen.

The court heard she resigned later that week.

Representing her, defence agent Paul Barnet told the court his client had “no previous convictions”.

Sheriff Ian Wallace deferred sentence on Forsyth, of Dalmaik Terrace in Peterculter, in order to obtain reports.

She will return to court next month.

Forsyth declined to comment at Aberdeen Sheriff Court yesterday.

An NHS spokeswoman said: “We note the outcome of these proceedings.”​

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