Court clerk jailed over £130,000 expenses and blank cheques fraud

0
26

By Michael MacLeod

A DISGRACED ex-court clerk who swindled £130,000 by faking expenses and writing blank cheques has been jailed for 24 months.

Conman Graeme Wilson‘s massive scam on his own employers at Edinburgh Sheriff Court saw him pocket £52,000 by forging signatures on 200 false juror expense forms.

When bosses moved him to a different department, he launched a new scheme to pocket himself £78,000 in fake fees for reports on other criminals by using the names of imaginary doctors.

Wilson used the cash to fund a lavish lifestyle and lived a “double-life”, telling workmates he topped-up his income by playing semi-professional rugby.

The brass-necked former sheriff clerk was finally caught when he audaciously tried to carry on conning the court – three months after leaving the service.

Last night (Thursday) the 29 year-old began two years behind bars, alongside the very criminals he used to see every day in his job.

And it emerged that since leaving the court service, jobless Wilson was getting £1,000 a month from his PARENTS – despite lying to them in the past about how much money he earned.

Moments before being sent to jail, smug Wilson said: “Instead of taking more money off of the public purse by taking benefits, I went down that route.”

But the rugby fanatic never paid back any of the court’s or his parent’s cash, instead blowing the lot on a lavish lifestyle in two disastrous relationships.

He claimed his failed stints with two girlfriends – which saw him splashing out on expensive clothes, restaurant meals and holidays – left him £34,000 in the red.

Wilson also lied to suspicious colleagues at Edinburgh Sheriff Court that his wealth came from playing semi-professional rugby.

“Delighted to see the back of him”

Yesterday one of Wilson’s former workmates said staff at the court were “delighted” to see his double-life snared.

One ex-workmate at the court said: “This has been a long time coming.

“What he did made us all feel like we were being watched, so we’re happy to see justice done.

“He said he was earning money by renting out a flat and playing rugby but it was all lies.

“He was a friend and it’s strange to think he’s in prison but to be honest I’m delighted to see the back of him.”

Now court officials say the scam could never be repeated after widespread security changes.

Wilson was forced to quit his job after five years in December 2008 when court bosses raised concerns about his “work in general.”

But it wasn’t until he returned to the capital’s court last March that his scheme was rumbled by wary staff.

He was caught on the Sheriff Court building’s CCTV system handing-in two envelopes containing invoices from allegedly from doctors claiming expenses totalling £78,000 for psychological assessments on criminals.

“Unable to empathise”

A further investigation found that Wilson had also fiddled 206 jurors’ expenses claim forms, resulting in £52,000 being diverted to his own bank account.

The conman remains “unable to empathise as far as the money is concerned,” according to Wilson’s solicitor.

Defence agent Duncan Hughes said: “He might want to see a clinical psychologist about his problems.

“He does have a great deal of regret in relation to his colleagues but is unable to empathise as far as the money is concerned.

“The trigger for all of this seems to stem from a relationship he was in for five years, which ended in traumatic circumstances that he has asked me not to go into.

“That left him in a distressed state and in debt which he estimates to be £34,000.

“He got into a new relationship and lived a lifestyle that he just couldn’t afford, so told his girlfriend that his parents were funding this lifestyle.

“At the same time, he was telling his parents he had a job which paid far better than it did – so he was living a double life.”

His parents had “high hopes” Wilson would become a big earner after bagging an honours degree in medical and biological chemistry.

But having travelled the world on a gap year, Wilson “hated” the prospect of working in science, so joined the Scottish Court Service in 2003.

None of the money will ever be paid back, Mr Hughes added.

He said: “The money is not stashed away somewhere.

“He was essentially buying everything at a slightly higher level than normal, including clothes, eating out and holidays.

“Having come clean he says he feels a great deal of relief.”

“You had divisive plans”

Wilson, of Canon Byrne Glebe, in Kirkcaldy, Fife, was branded “the classic conman” by Sheriff Deirdre MacNeill QC.

Jailing him, she said: “You were very fortunate to have parents supporting you.

“What comes across from your double life is a lack of remorse and lack of empathy for those affected.

“The public are entitled to expect that those who serve in the justice system behave in a way whereby they act with the utmost integrity.

“But you had divisive plans to defraud the Scottish Court Service and the public purse of over £130,000.

“What is remarkable is that not one penny of that is left and I am led to believe that it has simply been frittered away.

“I find that hard to believe.

“Even after you left work in this building you continued to try and defraud the system and indeed that is the way you were found out.”

Wilson said “thanks” as he was led to the cells.

The Scottish Court Service said Wilson’s behaviour during and after his time with the public body was “extremely disappointing”.

A spokesperson said: “The Scottish Court service expects the highest standards of conduct from those employed to work in our organisation.

“It is extremely disappointing that a former employee abused his privileged position and used detailed knowledge of our systems and processes to defraud the service.

“This was an appalling breach of trust.

“Mr Wilson has pled guilty today to criminal acts and will appear again in court for sentencing.

“Following the internal investigation which led to the charges being brought against Mr Wilson, the Scottish Court Service conducted a rigorous external review of all its relevant policies and procedures and appropriate steps have been taken.”

They also said the systems upgrade in 2006 was not as a result of Wilson’s fiddling with juror’s expenses.

The spokesman added: “This was a general systems upgrade not related to any incident or concern but which made changes to the actual procedure.”

NO COMMENTS