Greed was the motive for a cleaner employed at a Lanark manse stealing the minister’s wife’s Argos card and going on a spending spree with it.
That was the conclusion reached by sheriff Nikola Stewart last Thursday, when Victoria McPolland, 46, of Blackhill View, Law, appeared at Lanark Sheriff Court for sentencing.
At an earlier hearing, McPolland pleaded guilty to having stolen the card, belonging to Pauline Kerr, wife of Greyfriars Church minister Bryan Kerr, at their home in Lanark on May 12 last year and 10 charges of using it to obtain goods by fraud, plus one charge of attempting to do so.
The court heard that McPolland had previous convictions for dishonesty.
She used the card on the day she stole it and on June 2 and June 15 to obtain goods from Argos in Lanark including a table-top freezer and sun-loungers.
She used it at the Wishaw branch of Argos on June 16 for items such as a dog bed and dish rack.
She then went to the Argos in East Kilbride on June 18 for a £150 cable router before returning to the Wishaw branch on June 23 for a Dyson vacuum cleaner worth £360.
She was back at the Lanark Argos on June 29 to buy pillows and went the next day to the Glasgow Fort Argos to purchase a diamond solitaire ring worth £400.
On July 7 and 11, she obtained further items from the Wishaw Argos, including a television set worth £229.
Also on July 11, she attempted to obtain a smart TV worth £769 from the same store.
Mrs Kerr was alerted to the theft only when she received account statements from Argos revealing transactions she knew nothing about.
The matter was then reported to the police, and McPolland was charged.
Security camera footage at Argos stores was viewed, and McPolland was seen making the fraudulent transactions.
She splashed out a total of £1,521 on goods during her illegal spending spree, and not all of them had been recovered in resaleable condition, leaving the catalogue chain out of pocket.
She was appearing for sentence at court after background reports, including a psychiatric one ordered after her defence solicitor suggested that McPolland had mental health problems and that they might have had some bearing on her behaviour.
At Thursday’s hearing, her solicitor said that the psychiatric report, after all, had not added much to an original social work report on his client.
Sheriff Stewart said that neither report really provided a full explanation for McPolland’s behaviour, noting that she’d been charged with shoplifting since these offences.
She could only conclude that greed had been behind McPolland’s actions, she said.
The solicitor pleaded with Sheriff Stewart not to jail his client, saying that she had been badly affected by being separated from her family last Christmas Day by spending it in a police cell following the later alleged shoplifting incident.
The sheriff described McPolland’s breach of her employer’s trust as “despicable” and gave her a year-long community payback order with 200 hours of unpaid work.
She was also placed under a four-month 8pm-to-7am home curfew order, and she was warned that any breach of those orders would land her in jail.