• Emma Gatrell

Office Worker Guilty of Embezzling Over £5000 From St Andrews Architectural Firm

Kirsty Kean, officer manager at Muir Walker Pryde architects in St Andrews, has been found guilty of embezzling £5,770.46 between 30 July and 31 October, 2017. This is despite her claims that her bosses made accusations against her because she spoke out against their business practices. She overpaid herself, made two unauthorised transactions, each more than £2,000, and used the company bank account for a hotel stay.

Kean, 43, was responsible for paying salaries. She did this through access to the company bank accounts, access which Kean denied. One of the payments was worth £2,300. Kean claimed this had been a bonus given to her by Mr Muir for obtaining a grant to make the office more energy efficient. Kean said, “Mr Muir told me had never seen such a quick or expeditious return and wanted to pay me a bonus because he couldn’t increase my salary. “He said it would be difficult to talk Mrs Muir into this and he could speak to his accountant.

“He said he would put this through as a pension payment.

“I didn’t bring the second payment of £2,300 to his attention – he said he had done that by mistake which I thought was odd.”

Mr Muir denied this claim. He said the application was not advanced until after Kean had left the firm.

At the trial, held at Dundee Sheriff Court, Prosecutor Larissa Mil- ligan presented Kean’s bank statements as evidence. This revealed a £761 payment to Thomas Cook, made on the same day as one of the £2,300 payments entered her account. Ms Milligan said, “You stole £2,300 from your employer and paid off a holiday balance. That’s what it looks like.”

In earlier evidence, Mr Muir said Kean had apologised for the overpayment and was “horrified” as suggestions of her cheating the company.

When questioned on the £270 hotel stay, booked at a Premier Inn in Newcastle, Kean claimed the Muirs had set up a company account with the hotel chain because they wanted to do more business in London.

Mrs Muir said the account was set up without her knowledge. She denied that Kean had repaid the money in cash.

Ms Milligan said, “I am suggesting that you were responsible for overpaying your salary, for making unauthorised payments to which you weren’t entitled to and spending £270 on a hotel and that Mr and Mrs Muir did not have any idea about it.” Kean responded, “That’s inaccurate.”

Defence solicitor Ian Houston said, “We’re wondering why two professional people would come and not tell the whole truth about what happened in your brief period of employment?”

Kean replied, “I believe this has been brought scurrilously against me.”

“I was a whistle-blower to HMRC.”

The trial also concerned claims that Kean’s father had died, leading her to take several days off work.

This conflicted with cleaner Megan Gilmour’s assertion that she had met Kean’s parents on a night out in Leuchars.

Kean claimed it was actually her biological father in South Africa who had died. However, Mr Muir had received a text in which Kean discussed the funeral of her uncle.

Sheriff Paul Brown found Kean, a first offender, guilty of the charge and and called for social work reports.

She was ordered to return to court next month.





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