Charity treasurer who embezzled £4,500 sentenced to 200 hours community work

13 Jun 2024 News

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The treasurer of a small Scottish community-based food larder who took thousands of pounds from the charity has been sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid community work, according to reports.

Mhairi Borland was found guilty of embezzling £4,500 from the Lochee Community Larder & Café while working at the charity between 1 January 2019 and 19 January 2022.

The Daily Record reported that Borland transferred the funds directly from the charity to her bank account before claiming that it was “an administrative error”. 

She was originally charged with embezzling £25,000, but Dundee Sheriff Court accepted her guilty plea to £4,500.

The Lochee Community Larder & Café recorded an income of £89,800 in 2023, against expenditure of £71,800, according to the Scottish charity regulator OSCR.


According to the Daily Record, fiscal depute Laura Farquhar told the court: “[Borland] was the treasurer and only person with access to the charity’s online bank account.

“In March 2021, they received funding to move to larger premises. Refurbishments started in July that year and in August a contractor sent an invoice seeking the outstanding balance for work.

“This was brought to the attention of the accused and she advised that due to a fraud investigation, the money held in the account and bank cards had been frozen.”

The contractor then threatened to send in debt collectors if the charity failed to pay the remaining balance on the account. 

Following an investigation, some charity committee members discovered that the account and bank cards had not been frozen, with bank statements showing that Borland had transferred herself £4,500.

When questioned by the police, Borland said: “I didn’t steal it, I just didn’t return it.”

200 hours of unpaid community work

Sheriff Neil Kinnear ordered Borland to do 200 hours of unpaid community work, adding: “This is a serious matter. You said you weren’t administering it properly and not keeping proper records.

“You have been involved in embezzling £4,500 from a charity so I have to take a serious view. This is the sort of thing which could result in a custodial sentence.

“You weren’t using it to finance the high life and holidays and the like, so I’m persuaded that an alternative to custody is appropriate.”

Posting on Facebook, Lochee Community Larder & Café said: “Finally after two long years, we have closure and can move forward as a charity.”

Money not reimbursed

Defending Borland, solicitor Ross Donnelly told the court: “She understands what it is she pled guilty to. She was highly emotional and upset.

“This is clearly a woman who has been markedly affected by the court procedure and what she has been through. She’s in employment.

“She has a good social structure and a supportive family. She stated that the money was taken to cover various personal expenses that she was unable to vouch for.

“It’s her view that she didn’t personally benefit from the embezzlement. She recognises that the money she took wasn’t reimbursed.

“She was in charge of the money and couldn’t account for the money taken from the business account. She isn’t disputing that money was transferred to her personal account.”

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