Nursery manager cleared of embezzlement

Mrs Crush outside court.
Mrs Crush outside court.

A Fife nursery chief wept in the dock as she was cleared of embezzling cash at a St Andrews hotel.

Jacqueline Crush, of McWalters Fields, Balmullo, was told she could leave without a stain on her character after being found not guilty of stealing £1,152.16 while working as managing director of CHC Learning Ltd at the Fairmont Hotel in St Andrews.

Mrs Crush, 47, was alleged to have committed the crime between June 1 2009 and December 23 2010 and said she was “happy to get on with her life” after having the charges hanging over her head ever since.

Mrs Crush is currently an owner of Wonderyears Nursery Dundee Ltd, which runs Ninewells Nursery in the city.

Sheriff Ian Abercrombie said he found the evidence of key witness Neil Harris, a silent partner when Mrs Crush was employed at the hotel, to be uncredible and unreliable.

Dunfermline Sheriff Court had heard that Mr Harris may have had a personal vendetta against Mrs Crush due to having overpaid to buy her out of the company when he and his partner paid £80,000 for her shares.

Sheriff Abercrombie warned Mr Harris over the quality of his answers and admonished him for embellishing his answers rather than directly answering what he was asked.

Solicitor Fergus Christie said: “The Crown have not proved that it (the missing money) failed to go into the bank. We are told that the figures don’t add up.”

Sheriff Abercrombie said: “I am wholly satisfied that a verdict of not guilty is appropriate.

“I have heard evidence against you, particularly from the main complainer, that was wholly uncredible and wholly unreliable.

“You are free to leave and do so without a stain on your character.”