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High Court to sentence £400,000 embezzler

The case of a former council employee, who embezzled more than £ 400,000 from the estate of his aunt, was referred to the High Court for sentence yesterday.

John Lamberton, 49, originally from Eglinton, Londonderry, stole from the estate of Annie Paul, of Stack Farmhouse, Bo'ness, West Lothian, and did not give James, his brother, his £ 200,000 share of the estate.

He also defrauded the Inland Revenue of £ 163,000 in inheritance tax.

Lamberton was found guilty, at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, of embezzling stocks and shares worth £ 410,000 between May 1996 and September 1999.

He was also found guilty of pretending the total tax due on the estate was £ 9583.39, and of giving his brother, who was entitled to half of the estate, only £ 5000. Sentence had been deferred until yesterday for background reports.

Lamberton has been in custody since August 5 last year when he was arrested in Spain. He agreed to be extradited to Scotland in November, and was brought back to this country in January this year. The delay in bringing him to trial was largely due to the fact that he had four defence teams.

Lamberton had been expected to be sentenced at the same court yesterday, but the case was referred to the high court.

Herbert Kerrigan, QC, defending, pleading leniency for his client, said: "As far as the level of sentence is concerned, I would ask the court to take into account the fact there is little risk of re-offending."

However Sheriff Gordon Liddle, referring the case to the High Court, said: "Any competent sentence which I can impose would be inadequate in the circumstances. I am therefore of the view that the query should be remanded to the high court for sentencing."

At the original trial, Lamberton told the jury that he had worked for Fife Regional Council as a civil engineer for a number of years before local government reorganisation.

He said he became interested in the stock market around 1986, and, after his uncle's death, his aunt had become dissatisfied with the Bank of Scotland and felt it was not doing enough to protect the estate from taxation.

The jury heard that stocks and shares were moved to a bank in the British Virgin Islands.

After his aunt's death, however, Lamberton began transferring money out of the account.

Source: Scottish Media Newspapers Limited, The Herald (Glasgow)

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Page Last Updated: 4 March, 2010

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