A well-meaning attempt to salvage a Clydesdale choir’s dream trip to America massively backfired and resulted in a member forging cheques totalling £3360.
Lanark Sheriff Court heard this claim on Thursday when the Lanark and Carluke Choral Union’s former pianist Shenna Fox appeared for sentence for the theft from the charitable-status choir’s funds between December 2, 2015, and January 27, 2016.
At an earlier hearing she had pleaded guilty to cashing cheques bearing the forged signature of the choir’s treasurer at Lanark’s Clydesdale Bank.
Her theft only came to light when cheques genuinely presented by the treasurer `bounced’ for lack of funds in the choir account.
The bank later refunded the money from Fox’s own account. Both Fox and her husband, the choir’s conductor, have left the organisation.
Fox’s solicitor, Mr Alex Devanney, told the court that private gain was never her motive and, indeed, she was left massively out of pocket by the affair due, he claimed, to basic soft-heartedness.
He said the offence had its origins in the choir’s 2014 trip to perform at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
The 36 members taking part had to meet their own food and accommodation costs but it was thought that, as they’d been invited to perform, there would be no charge for use of the hall,
It transpired, however, that the hall management would bill the Union $21,000.
Mr Devanney said that Fox hid this fact from choir members “fearing that they would cancel the trip” and foolishly tried to pay the bill herself, contributing $5000 from her own pocket and borrowing the remaining $16,000 from an unnamed Lanark choir supporter.
It was when she could not meet repayments to him, she resorted to forging cheques, an act the solicitor said was a ”serious type of theft.”
Sheriff Robert Weir said the circumstances were“extraordinary” and ordered Fox to do 180 hours’ unpaid work in the community.