Page last updated at 12:44 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010

Former clerk jailed for two years

Graeme Wilson
The former court worker has been jailed for 24 months

A former sheriff clerk who fraudulently obtained £130,000 from the justice system has been jailed for 24 months at the court where he used to work.

Graeme Wilson, 29, altered information on juror citations at Edinburgh Sheriff Court so he could claim their expenses.

He also received money for psychological assessments that had not been asked for.

Wilson was told that he would have been locked up for 36 months if he had not pled guilty.

Mr Wilson's lawyer, Duncan Hughes, told the court his client had spent the cash on clothes, food, eating out and holidays.

He said: "He was essentially buying all the commodities but at a higher level.

"As far as the money is concerned it has not been stashed away somewhere, it is not recoverable."

The court heard Wilson had a privileged upbringing and, as he had been unable to work since his conviction, his parents had been giving him a living allowance of £1,000 each month.

Computer system

The court heard that in total, Wilson changed the facts on 206 jurors relating to loss of earnings or attendance, and entered false data into the computer system.

He would change the juror's name to his own and make out cheques payable to himself which netted him approximately £52,000.

Wilson would also change the record on the computer system back to the juror's name so there was no evidence of his crime.

When the computer system was changed at court and Wilson was moved to a different department he eventually set up a second scheme.

He fabricated 72 invoices purporting to come from doctors requesting payment for fees for psychological assessments which he pretended the court had called for.

It is extremely disappointing that a former employee abused his privileged position and used detailed knowledge of our systems and processes to defraud the service. This was an appalling breach of trust
Scottish Court Servicen

Cheques were sent to addresses for the false doctors which were redirected to him.

From this scheme, Wilson obtained around £78,000.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard when colleagues wondered how he was able to afford his lifestyle, he gave a string of excuses which included having wealthy parents, working as a semi-professional rugby player and rent income from a flat.

At an earlier hearing fiscal depute Isabel Clark said Wilson's scheme had been uncovered when he returned to his work in March last year, three months after he left in December 2008, and handed in envelopes.

Ms Clark said: "They were conveyed along to the appropriate people and on looking inside the envelopes the documents handed in were invoices and requests for psychological assessments."

The court heard an investigation was carried out which revealed a catalogue of inconsistencies and discrepancies relating to Wilson.

First offender

Mr Hughes said the trigger for Wilson's offending was the traumatic break-down of a five year relationship in 2005.

The court heard Wilson started his employment with the Sheriff Court Service in October 2003.

He had initially been employed on a casual basis but had become permanent.

The fiscal said he had learned about the various procedures and had then abused them for his own gain.

Wilson, a first offender, admitted forming two fraudulent schemes between 9 January 2006 and 4 November 2006, and 7 October 2007, and 6 March 2009, and obtaining approximately £130,000 by fraud.

He carried out the offence at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and at other addresses including his home address.

The court also heard that the systems used at courts have been changed across Scotland so that such schemes can not now be created.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Court Service said: "The Scottish Court Service expects the highest standards of conduct from those employed to work in our organisation.

"It is extremely disappointing that a former employee abused his privileged position and used detailed knowledge of our systems and processes to defraud the service.

"This was an appalling breach of trust.

"Following the internal investigation which led to the charges being brought against Mr Wilson, the Scottish Court Service conducted a rigorous external review of all its relevant policies and procedures and appropriate steps have been taken."



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