Former Bressay ferry crewman admits embezzling Up-Helly-A’ cash

A man who embezzled money from the Bressay Up-Helly-A’ committee when his brother was due to be Jarl appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.

Clark Paton, 29, of Greenton, Bressay, admitted stealing £2,509.75 from the committee between 30th April 2007 and 28th January 2008 while he was the treasurer.

He also admitted stealing £50 from the Bressay ferry Leirna between 11th and 29th February 2008 while he was a crewman.

The court heard that the money had been repaid in full by Paton’s father and the incidents had caused distress in a close-knit community.

Paton, who has five children in his household, had had pressing debts at the time and the shame he felt afterwards caused him to “exile” himself from Shetland.

He worked abroad and only returned briefly. Financially he had “kept his head down” and things were no longer at crisis level. But he knew he had breached the trust of the community and would be “tainted” for a long time.

Sheriff Graeme Napier said Paton was unlikely to re-offend in this way and deferred sentence for three months, saying he wanted to hear about Paton’s employment and his debts when he re-appears in court.

Meanwhile, a Bressay postman who made unwanted advances to a woman when delivering mail to her house was placed on probation.

George Birnie, 56, of Noustigarth, Bressay, had attempted to pull the woman towards him and kiss her on one occasion and did the same on a second occasion, when he tried to touch her breast.

Defence solicitor Mr Allan said drink was behind the offences and Birnie, who had led a “sheltered life”, had lost his job and was not a risk to the public.

Sheriff Napier said that Birnie was “not unaware” of changes in social circumstances. The sheriff said: “He [Birnie] doesn’t strike me as being of general danger to the public.” He said probation would “enhance his understanding of social circumstances”.

Birnie will serve 12 months probation and be on the sex offenders register for that period. He was also ordered to carry out 80 hours of community service.


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