by Rory Cassidy

A Drumchapel man is facing jail for embezzling more than £115,000 from his employers - so he could buy a house for his terminally ill mum.

Scott Prior, 30, processed refunds that looked like they were paid to a number of NHS trusts.

But the money was actually sent to bank accounts belonging to Prior and his mum, Catherine Prior, who had cancer and has since passed away.

He used the money to buy her a three-bedroom home, in Knightswood, and furnish the property - but has now had to sell it to pay back the money he swiped.

Prior claimed he embezzled the six-figure sum because wanted to repay his mother for everything she had done for him - and bought her the house to make her final months more comfortable.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to embezzling the sum from Thermo Fisher Scientific while working as an accounts assistant at their office in Fountain Crescent, Inchinnan Business Park, Paisley, between April 2013 and September 2014.

Procurator Fiscal Depute David McDonald told Paisley Sheriff Court: "Thermo Fisher Scientific is a global company that provides materials for scientific research and among their customers are various NHS Health Boards who hold accounts with them.

"As an accounts assistant, Mr Prior had password protected access to the company's online accounting systems, enabling him to enter transactions and giving him a degree of management and control over funds held within those accounts.

"Part of his role meant that Mr Prior had responsibility for processing customer refunds."

In October 2015 the operations director of the firm received information that more money was being paid to Prior's account than just his £20,000-per-year salary.

It emerged he had paid himself £46,694.44 in just eight weeks, and a total of £115,844.42, in refunds labelled as being sent to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Grampian and St Bart's Hospital, London, and the London NHS Trust.

Approval for payments over $5,000 had to be given by the vice president of the firm's finance department, who is based in California, and he had never been asked by Prior to sign off any of the refunds in question.

Sentence had been deferred for background reports to be prepared and Prior returned to the dock last week to be sentenced.

Defence solicitor Gordon Ritchie said Prior had grown up in a rough area, and was friendly with people who would go on to spend their adult lives in jail - but his mother had tried to keep him on the straight and narrow.

The lawyer explained: "He never knew his father - his mother took on the role of both parents.

"He realised he owed everything to his mother for her guidance and trying to prevent him going down the same life of crime.

"He thought he would never be able to repay her.

"He was trying to make his mum's life a little bit more enjoyable.

"He decided he wanted to get his mum out of the council scheme and in to a house that was a little more luxurious so that, what he thought would be the last few years of her life, which turned out to be the last few months, were a little more comfortable so that, as she was passing away, she had a degree of pride in him.

"She passed away without knowing the source of the funds.

"This is not someone who lived a lavish lifestyle.

"This is a unique case with unusual circumstances."

He said the house had since been sold and that Prior had a banker's draft for £96,000 he could pay back to Thermo Fisher Scientific if spared jail and ordered to pay compensation.

And he said jailing Prior would mean the firm never receiving any of the money back.

Sheriff Colin Pettigrew further deferred sentence until next month, saying he wanted to "give serious consideration" to what to do with Prior.