United Kingdom

Prosecution worker, 34, is jailed for more than three years for stealing £230,000 haul

A prosecution service worker has been jailed for more than three years for stealing a £230,000 haul of cash, heroin, cocaine and a stun gun from the evidence room.

Katherine Vaughan, 34, worked as a production keeper for the Crown Office in Aberdeen where she spent nine years embezzling £91,832.82 in cash and took £147,000 worth of drugs including heroine and cocaine. 

Stolen sanitary pads, a stun gun, cigarette ends, chewing gum, jewellery, clingwrap and a safe were among stolen evidence found in her home. 

The High Court in Edinburgh heard she used the money to buy expensive make-up and jewellery, as well as clothes, piercings and tattoos.

Katherine Vaughan (pictured), 34, worked as a production keeper for the Crown Office in Aberdeen where she spent nine years embezzling £91,832.82 in cash and took £147,000 worth of drugs including heroine and cocaine

Jailing the first-time offender for three years and nine months, judge Lord Beckett told her stealing items of evidence that her job required her to keep safe was a 'quite extraordinary breach of trust'.

Vaughan knew her behaviour was wrong but it was a 'compulsion', her lawyer Ximena Vengoechea told the court.

Ms Vengoechea said it stemmed from a troubled childhood, with Vaughan describing herself as a 'problem child'.

The court heard Vaughan made the first of several attempts to take her own life aged 12.

She struggled at school and was bullied after being diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome which caused hirsutism and weight gain.

Ms Vengoechea described Vaughan as a 'woman that has been lonely, has developed a deep-seated sense of self-hatred and sense of worthlessness'.

She added: 'The reason for her behaviour, it's directly stemming from her sense of worthlessness.'

The lawyer said Vaughan took money when she was feeling low to buy things to make her feel good.

The court heard Vaughan (pictured) made the first of several attempts to take her own life aged 12. She struggled at school and was bullied after being diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome which caused hirsutism and weight gain

The court heard Vaughan has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as depression and anxiety.

Lord Beckett told Vaughan he had taken into account a medical report indicating her mental health had some part in her offending.

He said: 'You worked for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, whose functions include the prosecution of crime.

'In order to do that, it is entrusted by the police with evidence which has been seized during criminal investigations.

'The preservation of such evidence is necessary to prove cases in court and that is why it is kept secure.

'It was your job to keep it secure but over the course of almost nine years you embezzled the items referred to in the charge.'

He added: 'Whilst many of these things could have little or no use to you, you embezzled £91,832.82, of which £90,484.98 remains unaccounted for.

'Items taken - including a prohibited weapon, 1.7kg of diamorphine, commonly known as heroin, and 2.4kg of cocaine, which the police had taken off the streets and made secure - found themselves in the insecure location of your home.

'Whilst the court has heard that what you did has not actually impeded criminal prosecutions so far and it is possible that it may not do so, it plainly had that potential.

'This represents a quite extraordinary breach of trust.'

Jailing her, he said: 'Given the gravity of this crime, there is no suitable alternative to imprisonment.

'I consider it necessary to punish you and to seek to deter persons, as you were, in such a position of trust.

'As your case shows, such a crime was surprisingly easy for you to accomplish and went undetected for many years.

'The court must mark the gravity of this crime and condemn such conduct.'

Vaughan pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to taking the items between January 1, 2011, and September 27, 2019. 

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