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Fife funeral fraudster Barry Stevenson-Hamilton in court for pretending to be nurse during Covid crisis

Barry Stevenson-Hamilton has been struck off by the SSSC. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.
Barry Stevenson-Hamilton has been struck off by the SSSC. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

A conman undertaker who made £130,000 selling fake funeral plans to dozens of Fife families has appeared in court again after pretending to be a qualified nurse.

Barry Stevenson-Hamilton is already serving a 33-month sentence for orchestrating a major fraud through branches of his award-winning firm Stevenson Funeral Directors, between 2013 and 2019.

He targeted vulnerable customers who spent thousands of pounds on pre-paid funeral packages – pocketing the fees instead of lodging them with a trustee.

He was jailed at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court in July after pleading guilty to fraud.

The Courier revealed previously, following his six-year scam, Stevenson-Hamilton went on to falsely represent himself as a qualified nurse at the height of the Covid pandemic in January 2021.

He admitted the crime, which took place in the Hamilton area, in March last year under the alias “Barry Fisher”.

On Monday, he appeared from custody in that name at Hamilton Sheriff Court in front of Sheriff Ross MacFarlane.

Barry Stevenson-Hamilton
Barry Stevenson-Hamilton sold fake funeral plans from his Fife businesses.

Defence lawyer Gregor Jarrod explained his client’s incarceration, adding: “His likely date for release is July next year.”

Sheriff MacFarlane admonished and dismissed him.

‘Intent to deceive’

Court papers state Stevenson-Hamilton – under the name Barry Fisher – did “with intent to deceive” falsely represented himself to be a registered nurse on January 14 2021.

It is a criminal breach of the Nursing and Widwifery Order 2001.

The offence came just days after he first appeared in court in connection with the funeral fraud.

Stevenson-Hamilton tried to pass himself off as a registered professional to leading care sector employer H1 Healthcare.

His bid was thwarted when bosses checked his background.

Stevenson-Hamilton tried to pose as a nurse during the Covid crisis.

A spokesperson for H1 Healthcare told The Courier: “Barry Fisher claimed that he was a registered nurse returning to the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) register as he did not revalidate on time.

“Barry made attempts to deceive H1 into believing he was a registered nurse.

“Following H1’s vetting checks, Barry’s nurse application was rejected.

“All our nurses go through rigorous compliance checks prior to commencing work as we take our job to supply good quality staff very seriously.

“Barry Fisher did not work with H1 Healthcare as a registered nurse.”

Second registration bid

A spokesperson for another care platform, Florence, said Stevenson-Hamilton had registered with them as a carer but was suspended from their platform in March 2021 following an investigation into an “incident”.

The spokesperson said the Scottish Social Services Council was alerted and he was no longer able to work for Florence.

Court papers show “Barry Fisher” shares the same date of birth and home address – in Edinburgh’s Old Dalkeith Road – as Stevenson-Hamilton.

Funeral fraudster Stevenson-Hamilton.

When Stevenson-Hamilton appeared in Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court for sentencing in August this year, he was described by a defence lawyer as a “first offender”.

The lawyer alluded to a conviction from March but said they had no information about it.

Funeral fraud

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court heard previously Stevenson-Hamilton’s bogus plans were uncovered by staff who worked for the firm and eventually challenged him.

Sarah Yorke, the firm’s principal funeral director at the time, became suspicious when a colleague said a family had been in touch questioning the funeral plan paperwork.

She examined funeral plan folders in Rosyth and Kirkcaldy and discovered original application forms were still there.

Sarah Yorke blew the whistle on her old boss.

They should have been sent to Cheshire-based funeral giants Avalon, a company which sells prepaid funeral plans either directly to members of the public or through arrangements with third parties such as undertakers.

Mrs Yorke said she spent time copying the original paperwork, as well payment receipts and fake Stevenson certificates sent to clients in place of the correct Avalon paperwork.

Ultimately, Stevenson-Hamilton admitted selling more than 40 phony plans by fraudulently offering prepaid funeral care packages from branches in Cardenden, Rosyth, Cowdenbeath and Kirkcaldy.

He was CEO and director of the company at the time.

Christina Plant and Tina McLean (centre) say Stevenson-Hamilton’s crimes led to Edward Plant (left) suffering a stroke.

The Courier told previously how a Fife pensioner burst into tears as she told her husband they had lost nearly £7,000 to Stevenson-Hamilton.

Another couple were swindled out of nearly £3,000 by the fraudster. Their daughter told us how doctors said they didn’t know if her father would make it after suffering a major stroke which she believes was brought on by the stress of losing the money.

Victims said they were disappointed and angry the case was not heard in the High Court and felt he should have been sentenced to longer in prison.