A 78-year-old theft victim’s family have hit out at a sheriff for allowing the culprit, former Selkirk Common Riding standard bearer Kirsten Scott, to walk free.
Scott was convicted of embezzling £16,000 from her mother-in-law and was told by sheriff Peter Paterson that that was an extremely serious matter meriting a prison sentence.
The 36-year-old was spared jail and ordered to carry out 160 hours’ unpaid work instead.
Scott was also told she must pay back £8,000 in compensation over the next 18 months to her victim and will be under supervision over that period.
Scott’s estranged husband, Roland Darling, and sister-in-law Lorna Darling have both criticised that sentence on the Southern’s Facebook page, denouncing it as overly lenient.
Mr Darling wrote: “The heartache she has caused my mum and us as a family is unbelievable.
“Justice? No justice – what a slap in the face for us.”
Ms Darling added: “My 78-year-old mum has got to wait another year and a half to get the other £3,000. What an absolute joke.
“That’s my mum and dad’s life savings.
“My mum lived in a freezing house till the end of October because she was terrified there would be no money left in her account to pay her bills.
“She has Alzheimer’s and no matter how we tried, she knows her money was stolen.
“I will never forgive her till the day I die.”
Selkirk Sheriff Court was told Scott embezzled £15,999 while acting under a welfare and financial power of attorney granted to her and her husband on behalf of her mother-in-law as she was suffering from dementia at that time.
Scott pleaded guilty to committing that offence at her home in Selkirk’s Leslie Place between April and July last year.
Procurator fiscal Graham Fraser explained that she’d been granted power of attorney with her now-estranged husband in January 2018 as her mother-in-law was suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Mr Darling’s mother, after becoming concerned about her bank balance, checked up and found money had been transferred into Scott’s account, however.
Scott’s lawyer, Andrew Houston, said she had made a full disclosure to the police about the situation, explaining that the money had been used to pay off debt and buy household appliances and not to fund a lavish lifestyle.
He added: “There is no evidence of extravagant spending.”
Mr Houston said Scott had had to resign from her job in catering at a local school but had found alternative employment since and would be able to repay £5,000 in compensation immediately.
Former Royal Air Force chef Scott, known as Kirsten Darling at the time, was Selkirk Ex-Soldiers’ Association’s standard bearer at the town’s 2016 common riding.
That role, after having her colours bussed by Mr Darling, earned her the distinction of being only the second woman ever to cast a flag at the annual festival.