An office manager has been found guilty of embezzling almost £6,000 from the St Andrews architects’ firm where she worked.
Kirsty Kean overpaid herself, made two unauthorised transactions worth more than £2,000 each and used the company bank account to pay for a Premier Inn stay in Newcastle.
During her trial at Dundee Sheriff Court, the 43-year-old claimed her bosses at Muir Walker Pryde architects in St Andrews made “scurrilous” accusations against her because she spoke out against their business practices.
Claims were made that Kean had lied to company directors Ian and Reseda Muir about the death of her father after her thefts had come to light.
A sheriff did not believe Kean’s version of events and found her guilty of embezzling £5,770.46 from the Church Street firm between July 30 and October 31, 2017.
Claims payments authorised by boss
The court was told how Kean was responsible for paying salaries after being given access to the company bank accounts.
During her evidence, Kean denied having any access to the accounts.
She claimed one of the payments of £2,300 was a bonus given to her by Mr Muir, 54, for obtaining a grant to make the office more energy efficient.
This claim was flatly denied by Mr Muir, who said the application was not taken forward until after she had left.
Kean said: “Mr Muir told me had never seen such a quick or expeditious return and wanted to pay me a bonus because he couldn’t increase my salary.
“He said it would be difficult to talk Mrs Muir into this and he could speak to his accountant.
“He said he would put this through as a pension payment.
“I didn’t bring the second payment of £2,300 to his attention – he said he had done that by mistake which I thought was odd.”
‘I am standing here to fight this’
Prosecutor Larissa Milligan displayed Kean’s bank statements to the court, which revealed a £761 payment to Thomas Cook on the same day one of the £2,300 payments went into her account.
Ms Milligan said: “You stole £2,300 from your employer and paid off a holiday balance. That’s what it looks like.”
Kean replied: “That’s not what happened.”
Mr Muir said in earlier evidence how Kean apologised for overpaying herself and said she was “horrified” by suggestions she was defrauding the firm.
When questioned on the £270 Premier Inn stay, Kean claimed the Muirs had set up a company account with the hotel chain because they wanted to do more business in London.
Mrs Muir said the account was established without her knowledge and refuted Kean’s assertion that she repaid the money in cash.
Defence solicitor Ian Houston said: “We’re wondering why two professional people would come and not tell the whole truth about what happened in your brief period of employment?”
Kean responded: “I am still standing here to fight for this.
“I believe this has been brought scurrilously against me.
“I was a whistleblower to HMRC.”
She replied: “I did not,” when asked if she had stolen or embezzled any money from the firm.
Conflicting evidence about ‘dead father’
The trial heard how Kean took several days off work after claiming her father had died.
However, cleaner Megan Gilmour said she had been on a night out with Kean and met her parents in Leuchars.
Kean, of Blaefaulds Crescent, Denny, claimed it was actually her biological father in South Africa who had died, even though Mr Muir had received a text where Kean discussed her “uncle’s funeral”.
Ms Milligan said: “I am suggesting that you were responsible for overpaying your salary, for making unauthorised payments to which you weren’t entitled to and spending £270 on a hotel and that Mr and Mrs Muir did not have any idea about it.”
Kean replied: “That’s inaccurate.”
Sheriff Paul Brown found Kean, a first offender, guilty of the charge and called for social work reports.
Mr Houston said the conviction would have a “pretty devastating” impact on Kean.
She was ordered to return to court next month.