A TREASURER who embezzled thousands of pounds from a community charity was only found out when he walked into a police station and confessed.

Brian Smith was in charge of the finances at Cockenzie House and Gardens for less than a year when he began siphoning off £30,000 from the charity’s bank account.

Smith, 46, used the stolen cash to pay for his day-to-day living expenses.

Smith’s callous scam went unnoticed for about six months until it began to unravel and he went into his local police station and confessed all in April last year.

The Cockenzie-based charity has described the theft as “a devastating blow” and said the non-profit organisation was just days from closing down due to Smith’s deceit.

He has now been ordered to pay the massive sum back to the charity through a compensation order and been placed on supervision for eight months following an appearance at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last week.

Smith, of Old Course Gate, Musselburgh, was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work in the community.

The court was told that Smith’s home has been repossessed due to the mortgage not being paid and he will be in a position to pay all the cash back to the charity within six months.

Sheriff Donald Corke told Smith he had “cynically and greedily drained” the charity’s bank account and had left “financial chaos” in his wake.

The sheriff added: “You have pled guilty at the first opportunity to embezzling £30,000 from the charity. You were a voluntary treasurer at that time and it was a gross breach of trust.

“You cynically and greedily drained the charity’s money and spent it on your own household expenses.”

Smith had previously pleaded guilty to the embezzlement charge when defending solicitor Mary Moultrie revealed her client had gone to the police and handed himself in.

Smith, a former used car salesman, became involved with the charity in 2016 after his wife had rented an art studio within Cockenzie House.

The father-of-two soon became treasurer after helping to overhaul the charity’s IT system but within months he was pilfering cash from its bank account.

It is believed that Smith racked up about £40,000 in debt in the charity’s name after he failed to pay rent and utility bills over the period he acted as treasurer.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “This has been a very difficult and challenging time for Cockenzie House and Gardens as we have lost half of our annual turnover through this embezzlement.

Despite this devastating blow, the trustees are proud to say we have managed to make a good recovery and our focus now is to continue to build a sustainable future for the charity.”

Smith pleaded guilty to embezzling £30,000 while treasurer of Cockenzie House and Gardens between May 2, 2017, and April 11 last year.