Alpaca man spared jail

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A former alpaca farmer who admitted defrauding his wife of more than £11,000 has been spared a prison sentence.

Colin Arnot was instead handed a community payback order and ordered to carry out 160 hours of unpaid work when he appeared for sentence at Lerwick Sheriff Court.

Arnot, 55, of Stucca, Hillswick, previously pleaded guilty to forging his wife’s signature on a Scottish Widows savings account form allowing the transfer of £11,615 to her current account.

He then used her bank card and PIN to withdraw the cash.

The offence happened between 2nd September and 13th December at Midgarth, North Roe.

Sheriff Philip Mann previously deferred sentence to allow back­ground reports to be prepared.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Arnot and his wife had faced difficulties. He told the court Arnot had been concerned about his family situation and had withdrawn the money to buy goods for her.

“She was not aware it was her money being used for this. It culmin­ated in the end of their marriage.”

He stressed there were “real concerns” about Arnot’s ability to cope with a custodial sentence, and pointed to a “real opportunity” highlighted in a background report which would allow him to repay the community for his offence.

Sheriff Mann told Arnot: “This is a very serious offence due to the amount of money involved and it’s the kind of level where, the High Court has indicated, normally a custodial sentence would be appropriate.”

Arnot, who stood in the Shetland Islands Council elections in 2012, had been keeping alpacas, with his wife on their croft at the time he disappeared in November last year. A major search was carried out but he turned up at hospital in Lerwick a week later.