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Friday, October 1, 2010

Former bank manager avoids prison over embezzlement in U.K.

A retired bank manager who embezzled nearly £50,000 from an elderly woman who trusted him with her finances has avoided a prison sentence.Lyall McRobb admitted stealing tens of thousands of pounds from a family friend who was staying at the Balmedie House care home in Aberdeenshire.The 68-year-old was not jailed at Aberdeen Sheriff Court yesterday because of his “significant” mental and physical problems, and was instead put on probation for two years and ordered to repay the £47,613.24 within nine months.
Defence agent Gail Goodfellow said McRobb would have to sell the family home at 9 Crollshillock Place at Newtonhill and move to a council property to be able to return the funds.Asked if he wanted to comment and apologise to the victim’s family outside court yesterday, McRobb said: “No.”McRobb met his victim, a Mrs Reid, in the 1970s when she worked with his mother at an Aberdeen charity shop, fiscal depute Jonathan Kemp told the court.When her husband died in 1995 he began helping her with her finances, including savings of £145,000, and continued when she went into the care home two years later.Between January 14 1997 and October 3, 2005, McRobb began transferring money from her account to his own. He also got the woman to sign 12 blank cheques, the court heard.Nursing staff began to have suspicions about McRobb’s financial hold over Mrs Reid in 2002, but the crime only came to light four years later when her solicitor, who became executor to her estate, noticed “significant discrepancies” with her finances.
Mrs Goodfellow told the court that her client, a grandfather, had been “held in high regard” as a banker for nearly 30 years and had worked as a resource manager of the Royal Bank of Scotland, responsible for eight Aberdeen branches.When he retired in 1996, he kept spending money as if he was earning a full-time wage and supplemented his pension money with Mrs Reid’s savings.It was taken for no particular or extravagant purpose other than to fund the lifestyle he had become accustomed to,” said Mrs Goodfellow.“Mr McRobb is thoroughly ashamed of his behaviour. He is truly sorry he abused the trust put in him by Mrs Reid.
“It is extremely surprising, if not disturbing, that a man with Mr McRobb’s background and previous exemplary character, should have come involved in this tale of dishonesty.”Mrs Reid, who was 81 at the time of her husband’s death, died some time after the criminal investigation began. She and her husband had no children, but there was “a relative” who would have benefited from her estate.The criminal prosecution has put a “considerable strain” on McRobb, who has been diagnosed with severe depression and twice disappeared this year, reporting suicidal tendencies, the court heard. He has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, as well as type 2 diabetes.Sheriff Malcolm Garden said: “This is an extremely serious matter. It involves a breach of trust, something no one would have expected from someone of your background and a very high level sum which has been embezzled. This case would undoubtedly justify a custodial sentence. Given your medical position and your previous good character, I can give you an opportunity to avoid a custodial sentence.”

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