The first woman in the UK to use a surrogate to become a mother has narrowly avoided a jail sentence for embezzling £50,000 from the charity she started.
Georgina Dodd was ordered to carry out the maximum 300 hours of unpaid community work, wear a tag for the next 120 days and remain in her home from 8pm to 6am as an alternative to prison.
Fiscal depute David Morton also revealed Dodd, who has already repaid £15,000, will be pursued under Proceeds of Crime legislation for the balance.
Dodd and her husband Michael, who live at Gruids, Lairg, hit the headlines in the early 1980s when Mary Stewart agreed to carry the childless couple’s son, John.
After his birth, Mrs Dodd set up Childless Overcome Through Surrogacy (Cots) in 1984, with herself and her husband as unpaid secretary and treasurer respectively, Tain Sheriff Court was told yesterday.
Cots offered support and services to childless couples who had to pay a membership fee and annual subscription to the charity.
But Mrs Dodd was pocketing some of the funds.
Between January 2005 and October 2006 she “frittered away” £50,000, her lawyer, Liam Robertson told Sheriff Chris Dickson, adding: “It is as simple as that. She can’t explain where it went.”
Mr Morton told the court that Dodd set up a secret account in Cots name and paid Cots cheques into it.
Dodd admitted embezzlement and sentence was deferred until yesterday for a background report.
Sheriff Dickson told Dodd he wouldn’t jail her because she was a first offender, at low risk of re-offending and had repaid some of the money.
But he added: “I also take into account you are the primary carer for your husband and your sister-in-law and this matter has been hanging over your head for a considerable time.”