A FORMER bank employee was spared jail after he embezzled nearly £20,000 from his employer.

Alan Stewart was very close to being put behind bars according to Sheriff  Alayne Swanson after he stole money from his employer, Lloyds Banking Group over a two year period.

Stewart, 31, appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court for sentencing.

The court heard he was a customer service adviser during the period he started to embezzle money.

He would re-open closed customer complaint accounts and then transfer money from them to other accounts he held with six other banks.

The procurator fiscal said the total amounted to £19,929.

The issue soon came to the attention of the bank based at Atlantic Quay, Broomielaw, and an internal investigation was carried out. After this the police were contacted and Stewart was cautioned and charged.

Stewart, of Dumbuie Avenue, Dumbarton, admitted that between July 7 2015 and October 21 2016 at Atlantic Quay, Robertson Street, he embezzled £19,921 from his employer while working for them.  The father-of-three’s defending solicitor said: “[Stewart] comes before the court as a first offender and he has no outstanding matters. It appears to be poor decision making on a low level that spiralled in to something bigger.

“He accepts full responsibility for what he did and expresses a great degree of regret.”

Stewart’s solicitor added as a result of the internal investigation it was agreed the accused’s pension should be used to pay off what had been stolen.

Through this, the embezzled amount was paid back in full.

The solicitor added this was an isolated incident with little risk of Stewart carrying out a similar crime again.

Sentencing Sheriff Alayne Swanson said she was prepared to deal with this case by imposing a community payback order.

She said: “I have to tell you it was a very close decision between that and custody.

“You were in a position of trust when you embezzled this money.”

Stewart sentenced to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.