Abronhill woman guilty of £35,000 fraud

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A trusted manager who stole more than £35,000 from her employers used her elderly father’s bank account as part of her scheme, a court heard last week.

Payroll supervisor Eleanor Heard, 57, stashed money in various relatives’ accounts from unsuspecting bosses at Peel Ports Group Ltd.

As part of a complex scheme she diverted funds from the firm to five different relatives on 45 occasions over a two year period.

This included £16,387 in her 79-year-old dad’s bank and £14,915 over 22 transactions into one of her daughter’s accounts.

Her crimes came to light when HMRC queried tax owed by employees and an internal audit revealed what she’d done.

Herd, from Hazel Road, Abronhill, pled guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court to embezzling £35,654 at the office at Robertson Street in the city centre between January 2008 and March 2010.

Peel Ports is one of the UK’s largest port operators with facilities in Liverpool, Clydeport, Dublin and Great Yarmouth. The company handles more than 12 million tonnes of cargo each year.

The court was told Herd was payroll manager until March 201 before resigning.

Procurator fiscal depute Pat Callander said: “By late 2011 it appeared that a few former employees of Peel Ports were being contacted by HMRC regarding tax that had not been paid on earnings.

“As a result of a lengthy investigation and detailed audit as carried out by the Internal Group Audit, its findings led Peel Ports to believe that the accused had misappropriated £35,654 from her previous employer.”

It was discovered that there were 45 instances where money had been diverted in to five bank accounts which belonged to close relatives of the accused.

Herd stashed £17,915 between her two daughters’ accounts, £351 in her son-in-law’s and £1000 in her husband’s bank.

There were 19 credits made to her elderly father’s account and he was said to be “genuinely shocked” by the number of transactions made in to his bank.

The matter was then reported to the police.

Sheriff Alan MacKenzie deferred sentence until next month for reports and continued Herd’s bail.