A BORDERS receptionist who stole £100,000 from her employers to fund her gambling addiction has been jailed for 12 months.

Gayle Middlemas, 30, embezzled the six-figure sum from the Greenside Veterinary Practice in St Boswells between January 2016 and February 2019.

Her lawyer had urged for her to be spared a prison sentence as her employers did not check her work, allowing her to build up the embezzled sum to six figures.

But Sheriff Peter Paterson said he was imposing a custodial sentence.

He noted that Middlemas, of Eildon near Melrose, had not offered to pay back any of the stolen money and had offered no apology for her offending and initially had not accepted full responsibility.

Sheriff Paterson added that he found it curious that the employer was still being blamed for having a "lax system" but he described that as irrelevant.

He said his starting point was 18 months’ custody but reduced it to 12 months because of the guilty plea.

Selkirk Sheriff Court heard that the Greenside Veterinary Practice had been established for more than 100 years and employed 15 vets and Middlemas had worked there for more than 10 years.

She started as an animal care assistant before taking over responsibility for all payments being processed after a computer system was installed.

She was also responsible for taking money and depositing it in the bank.

Depute fiscal Fiona Hamilton said there was no regular check of her work but at the end of 2015 and start of 2016, a financial discrepancy was raised by a manager.

She continued: "It was explained by the accused and no further action taken.

"The Practice was then sold and errors noticed."

Ms Hamilton said several card payments were queried and when they could not get an answer from Middlemas suspicions were raised.

Middlemas was confronted by Practice senior management and she said she would rectify the mistakes but she was unable to provide the missing receipts.

The fiscal said management were still under the impression she was doing her job incorrectly rather than dishonestly.

But Middlemas had become upset at the claims against her and put in a letter of resignation.

In February 2019, a customer produced a cash receipt but the payment had been put through the system as a card receipt.

Ms Hamilton said: "The staff became of the view the cash had been taken by the accused.

"A full investigation was launched and several other payments had been changed from cash to card payments and multiple discrepancies identified as payments taken."

Ms Hamilton said that even after she left staff noticed she had been accessing the computer system remotely "to try and cover it up”.

A warrant was obtained to search her property and bank accounts and there were several large deposits.

Ms Hamilton said this amounted to £100,000 over three years.

When interviewed by police, Middlemas initially denied any form of embezzlement.

But the fiscal added: "She went on to admit taking some money but unsure how much and it had become an addiction.

"She knew it was wrong."

Defence lawyer Ed Hulme said his client had been employed at the Practice since leaving school at the age of 16."

Explaining the background to the offence, Mr Hulme said: "She was gambling. She suffered an addiction to gambling.

"She was trusted in her role and there was no oversight of her work and somehow this went undetected for a period of three years.

"The firm's book-keeper queried the discrepancies between the accounts and books and management wrote it off.

"If there had been any inquiry by the employers this would have been caught much earlier."

Despite embezzling the six-figure sum, the court was told Middlemas still had debts of £9,500 due to online shopping.