Saudi nurse stole cash from patient

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A NURSE jailed in Saudi Arabia over the murder of a colleague was found guilty yesterday of stealing from a patient in Britain.

Lucille McLauchlan, 33, took money from an elderly patient while at King's Cross Hospital, Dundee, in 1996, and then forged references to get work. She was also convicted of reset - handling a stolen bank card.

The court appearance followed the nurse's release from Saudi Arabia earlier this year. She spent 17 months in jail after being convicted of being an accessory to murder.

Sheriff Alastair Stewart, at Dundee Sheriff Court, deferred sentence until 18 January for reports.

Although she was found guilty of using the bank card, McLauchlan was acquitted of stealing it while working at the Dundee hospital. And while found guilty of using forged references, she was cleared of allegedly using them to obtain a job in Saudi Arabia.

The court heard that one of the most crucial pieces of evidence that helped to convict her of the theft of pounds 300 was a two-and-a-half-minute sequence from a bank security video, which showed McLauchlan next to a cash machine in Dundee.

McLauchlan was unable to say what she had been doing there as she did not have an account at the branch.

Sheriff Stewart described her actions and the length of time spent at the machine as "highly suspicious".

"It is theoretically possible that she may have been doing something else such as making a balance inquiry but I suggest that is the sort of fanciful speculation that juries are directed to avoid."

The sheriff described McLauchlan's use of forged references, which she gave to the Speedwell Nurses Recruitment Agency, Dundee, as "a clearly thought out and planned pattern of deceit with a view to obtaining employment abroad". He said they contained "untrue statements" and "complete lies".

McLauchlan - who appeared under her married name of Ferrie - sat impassively in the dock as the verdicts were read out and refused to speak to reporters as she left the court.

One of the references purporting to come from Loraine Deuchars of King's Cross Hospital spoke of McLauchlan's "good working relationship with staff" and described her as "very popular" with patients and relatives. But Miss Deuchars told the court she had not seen the letter.

McLauchlan was suspended by King's Cross Hospital in April 1996 after a police investigation into the missing bank card and she was sacked after a hearing on 14 May.

By that time she had approached the agency, asking about work abroad. Soon after, she got a job at the King Fahd military hospital in Saudi Arabia. While there, McLauchlan was jailed with Deborah Parry, another nurse, after the death of Yvonne Gilford, an Australian, in 1996.

A Saudi court convicted her of being an accessory to murder and sentenced her to eight years in prison and 500 lashes. She flew home after her sentence was commuted in May.