£2,000 theft from bereaved family

Arlene Newbigging. Picture: Lesley Martin
Arlene Newbigging. Picture: Lesley Martin

A funeral worker who previously swindled more than £36,00 from bank customers has been found guilty of stealing another £2,000 – this time from a bereaved family.

Arlene Newbigging (48), of Bonnyrigg, who was given community service five years ago for fraud, has been spared jail again after taking money paid by grief-stricken Celia Doran for the funeral of her 80-year-old mother, Margaret Watt.

Newbigging – then in charge of Barclays Funeral Directors in Bonnyrigg – embezzled £1,957.84 between December 2012 and February 2013 from the family’s funeral account. Bosses at Dignity Funerals Ltd, which runs Barclays, launched a probe after receiving an anonymous letter outlining her previous convictions and Newbigging – formerly known as Arlene Wales – was suspended and later sacked.

The investigation uncovered cash discrepancies at the branch and, in a witness statement sent to the Crown, the firm said Newbigging had submitted a false CV to conceal her criminal history.

Sheriff Frank Crowe imposed a three-month curfew on Friday, ordering her to remain in her Brixwold Drive home between 9pm and 6am.

She was also ordered to repay Dignity the full £1,957.84 at a rate of £100 a month. The sheriff warned Newbigging that if she breached these terms she could face jail.

Fiona Doran, Mrs Watt’s 39-year-old granddaughter, said she had wanted Newbigging to be jailed for “as long as possible” and described the sentence as “disappointing”.

“How can you embezzle thousands of pounds, get a community order, commit embezzlement again and get a tag for three months? That’s not justice. She has done it before and she should have gone down for it. My grandmother would have been horrified by what happened.”

A spokesperson for Dignity Funerals Ltd said: “We were shocked and dismayed when we discovered the criminal activities of Arlene Newbigging.

“She was employed in a position of trust and took advantage of vulnerable, recently bereaved clients at one of the worst times in their lives.”

When she worked for Lloyds TSB, Newbigging stole more than £36,000 from customers including a dead man, a disabled elderly couple and one of her own neighbours.

She took the money while working at branches in Dalkeith and Cameron Toll between November 2004 and May 2007.