A Cumnock man "duped" his wife, family and friends and stole more than £12,000 of Christmas savings to fund his gambling habit.

Michael Taylor, 39, pocketed £12,460 intended for a Parks Christmas savings fund overseen by his wife two-and-a-half years ago.

The Crown had originally levelled the same charge against Taylor’s wife – but Lynne Taylor’s not guilty plea was eventually accepted by prosecutors, with a court hearing that “she was duped as much as anyone else”.

Ayr Sheriff Court heard Mrs Taylor had lost her job as a result of the accusations.

Fiscal depute Jade Podlesny told the hearing: "She [Lynne Taylor] had been an agent with Parks since around 2009, and each year placed orders with Parks’ family festive fund for family, friends and neighbours. 

“Funds were kept in a bank account with monthly bank transfers.

"She kept cash in the home and she trusted her partner, the accused, to regularly put cash into the account.

"On January 2021 she was saving money as normal. She had 17 customers collecting orders. She was taking money routinely from customers over next 11 months.

"After March 2021, there were no further payments, and Parks failed to chase up payments.

"The year's final payment was due on November 1, 2021, but at that time no payment was made. Customers were due to receive gift cards and vouchers for Christmas time.  

"On November 1, 2021, the witness went into the bank to transfer the final amount, to find only £20.

"She confronted the accused, who was only person with access to the account, and who told her he spent the money on gambling.

"The accused was then cautioned and charged by police and made no reply."  

Defence solicitor John Gallagher told Sheriff Desmond Leslie that Parks had reimbursed those who had paid money to the fund via Taylor’s wife.

Mr Gallagher said: "He appears before your Lordship with no previous convictions, and has nothing else outstanding.

"The company suffered, rather than the individuals. The individuals' sums invested were met by the organisation.

"The only issue with compensation is he is restricted financially.

"A consequence for Mrs Taylor after local reporting was she lost her employment. She was entirely vindicated; unfortunately, she was as much duped as anyone else.

"The relationship was maintained and they are still together after the difficulties when gambling took over."

Sheriff Desmond Leslie told Taylor: “When you're addicted to drink there's only so much you can take; when you are addicted to gambling it's almost infinite."

Taylor, of Craigens Road, was placed on a community payback order for two years with supervision to address "that particular [gambling] issue".

He was also ordered to pay £7,500 compensation to Parks at a rate of £200 a month to cover their losses.