Charity fraudster pockets more than £1k 058

By Paul Thornton

A HEARTLESS charity worker stole hundreds of pounds from the cancer shop she helped run.

Hard-up Alexis Hughes, 40, pocketed over £1,000 of cash instead of taking it to the bank at the end of each day.

And it emerged Hughes, who was assistant manager at a Marie Curie shop in Edinburgh, had also been claiming benefits while she worked.

The mother conned tax-payers out of nearly £4,000 in benefits she was not entitled to before she was caught.

Yesterday at Edinburgh Sheriff Court Hughes admitted embezzlement and benefit fraud.

The court heard how Hughes took up a voluntary job for the well-known charity but later became assistant manager of the Lothian Road branch.

Despite getting a salary and knowing she had to tell the benefits agency, she kept claiming income support for almost a year, claiming £3,942.

But greedy Hughes – who says she had money problems – used her position to steal £1,168.50 from the charity to top-up her already ill-gotten gains.

After cashing up the shops takings, she was supposed to take them to a local bank.

But heartless Hughes simply kept the charity cash.

Things only came to light when Hughes left her keys with shop workers who realised the money was missing.

Even when managers told Hughes they wouldn’t report her if she paid back the cash, she missed payments and they were forced to call in police.

Hughes claimed she had paid back most of the money to the shop but admitted she had made no efforts to pay back the benefits system and was STILL claiming.

Her solicitor, Mr Collins, said she was suffering financial and emotional problems and Sheriff Noel McPartlin called for reports.

She will be sentenced later this month.

Sacked bus driver claims unfair dismissal 057

By Douglas Walker

A DOPEY bus driver who crashed a busy double-decker after blowing his nose at the wheel is claiming unfair dismissal.

David Patton, 47, was sacked after his packed vehicle careered out of control down a busy road before eventually slamming into a bus stop.

The father-of-two claims he passed out after using his hanky but should not have been fired for his poor driving.

Patton, from Edinburgh, woke up to find his front windscreen lying on top of him after he had crashed into a bus stop.

He said: “I had a cold at the time and I gave my nose a good blow.  I set off and then I blacked out.

“When I came to, the windscreen had come in on top of me and the bus was shaking.

“One of the passengers came rushing down to make sure I was all right.  The bus had travelled about 30 or 40 yards down the road so I must have blacked out.”

Patton was later sacked by Lothian Buses for his poor standard of driving but maintains he had previously never been faulted during his 20 years in the job.

He has now decided to take the company to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal.

He said: “They can’t just sack me because I blew my nose and blacked out.  They don’t believe I blacked out and are making a monkey of me.

“They were out to get me because I am the type of person who stands up for himself.  I am not interested in money – I just want my name cleared.

“I have been told many times that I am an excellent driver.  As soon as I got in the cab that was my office and I was like clockwork.

“If they wanted to get rid of me on medical grounds then fair enough, but not for the standard of my driving.”

Patton said he had undergone an operation to remove a cancerous lump a few months before the accident, which happened in November last year, and had been suffering a cold.

He insists he has had a blackout since then and his health is under investigation by doctors.

He can no longer get work driving buses and is working at Asda at weekends.

A spokeswoman for the employment tribunals service confirmed it had a record of the case but said no date had yet been set.

Mr Patton was facing prosecution on a charge of careless driving but the case has now been dropped.

George McKendrick, Lothian Buses’ operations manager, said: “This particular case is subject to an industrial tribunal and therefore we cannot comment on any claims made by Mr Patton as it would be prejudicial towards its outcome.”