Feb 1 2013 by Colin Rutherford, Kilmarnock Standard
A legal assistant who conned her employer and a bank out of over £87,000 has been jailed for two years.
Sentencing Arlene Reid, 37, last week, Sheriff Iona McDonald said that she was guilty of “a gross breach of trust”.
Reid, of Scott Road, Irvine, earlier pleaded guilty to swindling the Alliance and Leicester out of over £64,000 in 2007 by pretending she was buying the house she already lived in.
She also admitted embezzling £23,000 from a Kilmarnock law firm between February 2008 and July 2011.
At the time of the offences, Reid was working as a paralegal with Bell and Co solicitors in Grange Place.
Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard that she was now bankrupt as a result of action taken by the bank she conned.
An agent for Reid said that, when she committed the offences, she was in so much debt that she could not quantify it.
“It certainly ran into some thousands,” he said.
The solicitor said that the offences were planned and involved manipulating the clients’ account of her then employer.
Reid initially believed that she would be able to repay the money before the scam was discovered.
“When matters came to light, she was genuinely taken aback by the amount which had been amassed,” said her lawyer.
He said that his client had “shown some genuine remorse”.
Reid, he said, had developed mental health problems, but realised that she had brought her difficulties on herself.
The solicitor asked Sheriff McDonald to consider imposing a community payback order, as Reid had been assessed as at low risk of reoffending.
But the sheriff told Reid that her actions were not only a breach of trust, but had been planned and carried out over a period of three years.
“The only appropriate sentence is a custodial sentence,” she said.