Feb 29 2012 by Gordon Robertson, Airdrie & Coatbridge
Gartcosh Parish Church
A SUNDAY School teacher and church elder stole a family friend’s retirement savings.
Lily Martin (59) of Whitehill Terrace, Gartcosh, pleaded guilty at Airdrie Sheriff Court to embezzling £7000 from Thomas Gardener (68).
She was ordered to repay the money, plus £500 compensation, back to Mr Gardener at the rate of £100 per month.
Mr Gardener had earmarked the stolen money for double glazing and holidays with his partner, Sheila McCrimmon.
He had already lost money in a business venture and claims Martin offered to help him earn a good return on what savings he had left.
But the pillar of Gartcosh Parish Church stole the cash after she had been given the money in instalments in 2001.
Mr Gardener (68) said: “I gave her the money and it was meant to be paid back to me when I turned 65.
“She saw what had happened, that I had lost money, and she said ‘I’ll help you’.
“When I eventually turned 65 in November 2008, and asked for my money, she said she had reinvested it until the following March.
“I asked her to give me it in the last week of March because I had a lot of outgoings then and she said ‘not a problem’.”
The money was never paid back to Mr Gardener who lives in Chryston Road, Muirhead.
After speaking to a lawyer, he was advised to report it to the police, which he did, and Martin was charged with theft.
Mr Gardener insists that the actual amount stolen was £10,500 but Martin pleaded guilty to stealing £7000 and denied she had ever given her victim financial advice.
Mr Gardener added: “It makes me feel sad and angry.
“It’s a betrayal. I know her mother well and knew her father very well and her cousins.
“I was a good friend of the family.
“I feel totally gutted by all of this.
“It’s been three years of hell. I was going to put double glazing in and have nice holidays with Sheila. It’s a lot of money for me.
“I was told that I have to take her to a civil court for the rest of the money, which I am considering, but it costs money to do that.”
Martin refused to comment on the case when an Advertiser reporter approached her on Monday.
A Church of Scotland spokesman confirmed Martin’s roles at Gartcosh Parish Church but declined to comment further.