When Biggar woman Ashley McGarrell offered help to a pal going through a difficult patch, it seemed like a fine gesture of friendship.
However, McGarrell ended up robbing that vulnerable and trusting friend of over a thousand pounds worth of jewellery with priceless sentimental value.
Her actions were described at Lanark Sheriff Court on Thursday as “a nasty, nasty betrayal of trust which was frankly appalling.”
The scathing comments of Sheriff G.P. MacMillan came as he sentenced McGarrell for the offence to which she had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.
The 28-year-old of 12 McAlpine Park admitted that, on July 9, 2014, from 3 Knocklea, Biggar she had stolen jewellery and an unspecified amount of cash.
Depute fiscal Bernard Ablett said that McGarrell and her victim Sharon Ferguson had been friends for about six years before the offence; McGarrell offered to help her friend cope when she separated from her partner in 2013, taking on the chore of walking the Ms Ferguson’s dog each day.
To help McGarrell carry out this task, she was given a key to Ms Ferguson’s front door.
In 2014 Ms Ferguson asked for the key back but McGarrell claimed to have lost it. It was in July of that year Ms. Ferguson noticed that jewellery and cash were missing from her home and she contacted the police.
Officers interviewed McGarrell who immediately admitted the theft, saying she had taken the jewellery to a branch of Ramsdens in Hamilton and had received £111 for it.
The court heard that Ms Ferguson had originaly paid a total of £1045 for the jewellery. The fiscal said that it had proved impossible to recover the jewellery as Ramsdens had sent it off as part of a mixed consignment to its base elsewhere in the UK.
A solicitor for McGarrell said his client had “shown remorse from the start” for her actions, her first offence of any sort. She had been suffering health problems at the time which might have affected her judgement and she had “fallen in with the wrong people” at the time of the offence.
Sheriff MacMillan was scathing in his comments about McGarrell’s “appalling betrayal of trust” and he ordered her to pay Ms Ferguson £1045 in compensation over the next eighteen months and to carry out 100 hours unpaid work under a Community Payback Order.