Saudi nurse `caught on bank camera'

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The Independent Online
THE NURSE Lucille McLauchlan, freed earlier this year from a Saudi jail, agreed that she was pictured by a bank security camera days after a pensioner's bank card went missing from a hospital, a court heard yesterday. But Ms McLauchlan, 33, was unable to explain to police her presence at the bank's cash machine, an officer said.

Pc Helen Manini, of Tayside Police Fraud Branch, was giving evidence on the second day of the trial of the nurse, who faces two charges of theft and one of fraud. Ms McLauchlan, charged in her married name of Ferrie, faces charges relating to a period in 1996 in her home city of Dundee before she left for Saudi Arabia. Later that year she and another nurse, Deborah Parry, were arrested by Saudi police investigating the murder of the Australian nurse Yvonne Gilford. Ms Parry was sentenced to death for murder and Ms McLauchlan was jailed for eight years. They were freed after serving 17 months and returned to Britain.

Pc Manini told Dundee Sheriff Court that in April 1996 she was investigating an alleged bank-card theft when she and a colleague studied film from a camera at a Bank of Scotland branch in Nethergate, Dundee. The sequence, taken on 11 March 1996, showed a woman spending time at a key pad, apparently keying in entries and staying longer than other customers, as if making more than one transaction.

She told the court she visited Ms McLauchlan's home on 10 April: "I recognised her from the still photographs on the tape." She said Ms McLauchlan told officers she had no Bank of Scotland cards. Although she agreed it was her picture in the photographs, she was unable to give an explanation for her presence at the machine.

Two women said to have provided references to help Ms McLauchlan get a job in Saudi Arabia told the court they had not written them and that their signatures were forgeries. Tracy Aitken, a former nurse,said a reference for Ms McLauchlan purporting to be from her was false. She had previously provided Ms McLauchlan with a reference but the one presented to a Saudi recruitment firm was not the one she had written. Referring to errors in the letter, Mrs Aitken said: "Obviously this has been typed by somebody who cannot work the correction ribbon on the typewriter. I take pride in my typing. I would never send a reference with scored-out typing errors like this."

A second "referee", Lorraine Deuchars, told the hearing before Sheriff Alistair Stewart that she was a lower grade nurse than Ms McLauchlan and would not have been in a position to write a reference even if asked to do so.

Ms McLauchlan has pleaded not guilty to stealing a bank card and diary in March 1996 while working at Dundee's King's Cross Hospital, and of stealing pounds 1,960 by means of a feloniously obtained bank card.

She also denies getting her job in Saudi Arabia that year by fraud by making false claims in an application form to a recruiting agency, and offering forged references.

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