A RESPECTED church member embezzled almost £43,000 from a much loved family business while the owner was critically ill.

Douglas McAllister was brought in as financial director of fabric firm Mandors after Karen Deutsch suffered an aneurysm.

He used the opportunity to steal £42,395.93 from the business, using the company credit card to buy personal items - including a new car.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that, as well as using the credit card, the 48-year-old churchgoer wrote cheques to cash.

The married father-of-three also diverted BACS transfers from customers to his personal account.

Opened in 1977 on Renfrew Street, Mandors is owned by husband and wife Michael and Karen Deutsch, who were both in court to see McAllister in the dock.

McAllister, of Eaglesham, was employed as financial director between 2007 and December 2014.

He had previously been the firm’s auditor but was brought in-house following Mrs Deutsch’s health troubles.

Procurator fiscal depute Elizabeth Aitken told the court McAllister had “total control of all finances”.

His spending spree, from February 20 2012 to November 17 2014, was uncovered during a routine check of company email accounts during which Mrs Deutsch found a conversation between McAllister and a former Mandors employee that raised concerns.

McAllister, who pled guilty to embezzlement, was found to have used the company credit card for a string of personal purchases, including taxing his wife’s car and buying a new vehicle.

On the advice of an employment solicitor, Mr and Mrs Deutsch suspended McAllister on full pay.

He agreed to repay £30,000 to the couple who then reported him to police.

Defence lawyer Ross Yuill said McAllister had not embezzled the money in order to enhance his lifestyle but to “make himself feel better” as he worked long hours, which made him depressed and “his family life was suffering”.

In further mitigation, the defence agent also said that McAllister had a difficult relationship with his employer, Mr Deutsch.

Mr Yuill said McAllister had not realised how much money he had taken and had borrowed from friends and family in order to pay back the cash.

The accountant now intends to repay the remaining £12,000 before his next court appearance, again borrowing from friends to make up the sum.

His solicitor told the court McAllister was “surprised” to be contacted by police as he believed that repaying £30,000 had settled the matter.

The stress of police and court proceedings, Mr Yuill said, had caused his client’s health to deteriorate.

Mr Yuill added: “I can confirm that Mr McAllister has repaid the sum of £30,000 in relation to this matter.

“It’s the intention of Mr McAllister during the period of deferment to attempt to obtain the remainder of the amount.”

Sheriff Kenneth Hogg deferred sentencing until next month and ordered criminal justice social work reports and a Proceeds of Crime assessment.

McAllister, who is on bail, will reappear at Glasgow Sheriff Court on May 3.