Page last updated at 17:22 GMT, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Nursery theft for shopping spree

Airdrie Sheriff Court (Pic: Crown Copyright)
McCann told Airdrie Sheriff Court she would pay back the money she stole

A woman who stole thousands of pounds from the nursery where she worked, forcing it to shut down, has blamed a shopping addiction for her actions.

Lyn Ann McCann, 39, stole a cheque book from Stepping Stones Nursery in Cumbernauld and went on a six-month spending spree.

Airdrie Sheriff Court heard she spent more than 7,000 between December 2005 and June 2005.

She was caught when a colleague discovered the account was overdrawn.

At a court hearing she offered to pay the money back.

The charitable-run nursery, which also offered council funded places, was forced to close and two other workers lost their jobs.

McCann's lawyer, Ross Brown, said: "She was put in a position of responsibility with no previous experience and got herself in a terrible muddle.

She found herself writing the first cheque and thereafter went into a spiral and out of control.
Ross Brown
Defence lawyer
"She sought to alleviate that by a particular and rather unusual shopping addiction which brought her happiness in her life.

"It was a fatal combination and she felt pretty helpless."

He added: "She found herself writing the first cheque and thereafter went into a spiral and out of control.

"She is deeply ashamed of her actions."

Sheriff Joanne Johnston deferred sentencing until next week and told McCann: "You obtained that sum of money criminally.

"It is quite plain people should not benefit from criminal activity.

"I am not considering a custodial sentence so if I'm satisfied that money has been paid back I could consider an alternative to custody."

A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council said: "The partnership with Stepping Stones Nursery was terminated due to non compliance with a number of quality issues in relation to their service level agreement with North Lanarkshire Council.

"North Lanarkshire Council was satisfied that the funding paid to Stepping Stones was used to provide statutory funded nursery places.

"Any monies involved in the recent court case were raised by parental fundraising at the nursery and were not associated with funding to the establishment from North Lanarkshire Council Education Department."

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