Support worker spared jail for stealing money from Borders General Hospital

A health worker has been spared jail for stealing £350 worth of donations from the Margaret Kerr Unit at the Borders General Hospital.

The Margaret Kerr Unit at the Borders General Hospital in Melrose.
The Margaret Kerr Unit at the Borders General Hospital in Melrose.

David Watson, 36, had denied taking that money from the palliative care unit at the Melrose hospital, his workplace for the last 12 years, on March 31 this year.

He was convicted of theft in the course of employment at a trial last month, however, after CCTV evidence and a witness statement provided “overwhelming” evidence of his guilt.

Watson, of Queen Elizabeth Square in Galashiels, was given a supervision order.

He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours’ unpaid work and to pay back the £350 he stole to the Margaret Kerr Unit.

Sheriff Kevin Drummond told him that sentence was an alternative to custody.

He said: “The evidence was overwhelming. Watson was, and still is, quite plainly in denial here.

“What he says is that he was given money to take upstairs to the accounts department and, while on his way, he had an urgent need to go to the toilet.

“He went into the toilet, left it in the toilet and walked out of the door again. He remembered and went back.

“He claimed he left the money for 45 seconds and it had been taken by somebody, then didn’t report the matter.

“He is, quite simply, in denial.”

Watson has since resigned from his job as a clinical support worker for NHS Borders, Jedburgh Sheriff Court heard yesterday.

“He acknowledges that his conviction has materially damaged the unit that he was working with,” said his defence lawyer, Mat Patrick.

“With a conviction such as this, his prospects in that area are now poor.”

“He is a first offender. It’s likely the court will never see him again, but, saying that, I have to acknowledge this was a significant breach of trust.”

Watson’s arrest followed an 18-month investigation into money going missing at the £4m unit, opened five years ago after a public fundraising drive to add to a legacy left by West Linton nurse Margaret Kerr. It is the region’s only end-of-life care facility.