THE undertaker who turned in “master conman” Barry Stevenson-Hamilton “could have lost everything” after discovering his sick money making plot.

Sarah Yorke, from Kincardine, was the first to report the disgraced funeral director, who admitted fraud in court in Kirkcaldy last week.

Stevenson-Hamilton took in £130,000 from more than 60 customers who thought they were buying pre-paid funeral plans, but instead he kept the money for himself.

Sarah told the Press: “He almost cost me my career. I had a mortgage to pay, bills to pay, a 10-year-old daughter to look after. It was one of the worst times in my life. Everything that came out of his mouth was a lie.”

The director of Stevenson Funeral Directors Ltd, which had premises in Rosyth, and Funeral (Care) Scotland Ltd admitted forming a scheme to obtain money by fraud, acquiring £130,207 between January 2016 and September 2019.

Stevenson-Hamilton told customers they were buying a pre-paid funeral plan with Avalon Trustee Company Ltd and that the money paid would be held securely by Avalon.

But Sarah, and a co-worker, found documents that showed customers weren’t registered with Avalon, money wasn’t paid to the company and, as a result, they had not purchased a funeral plan.

Folders still retained copies which should have been sent straight to Avalon, with receipts signed by Stevenson-Hamilton.

“The more you dug, the more you found out,” the 40-year-old explained. “Barry is quite bright but also quite stupid. I would photocopy the sheets and we collated the information, we quite quickly saw things were going downhill.”

Sarah walked out soon after confronting her boss, who was found to have scammed more than 60 people.

“I said ‘You can’t do this’, he just got silent,” she said. “He looked at the plans and said ‘She’s dead, he’s dead’, then took away the folder and put it in the shredder.”

A tissue of lies unfolded, with his then-partner discovering that the university he claimed to be graduating from had “never heard of him”.

“It was lie upon lie upon lie,” she said.

“He was a master conman, you would think he would bend over backwards for you but he used people. He would come over as the most genuinely nice guy, he was like Ted Bundy.”

Sarah has only recently been promoted back into the position she held almost three years ago, working under Stevenson-Hamilton.

She “maxed out” a credit card trying to make ends meet after leaving the industry, which she struggled to rejoin after others found out what had happened.

“Other funeral directors wouldn’t touch me,” she said. “I thought, that’s it, I’ve blown my 10-year career, I have lost friends because my integrity wouldn’t allow me to continue.

“My friend who was a celebrant dropped me like a hot tattie because I had cost them business. Everybody knows everybody, but it did shock me, I lost two mates, a job, a career, and had no money coming in.

"I really needed friends at that time but they weren’t interested, they were still making money.

"He owed me a wage but I thought, even if he does pay me, I don’t know where the money might have come from. He knew it would hit me hard. And it did.”

The business had been facing difficulties in the run-up to the investigation, which ran for almost three years.

“It got to the point where crematoriums were refusing to take business unless we paid up front because we owed them money,” Sarah explained.

“We couldn’t order coffins in Scotland because we had wracked up bills. We were in a position of trust, no other job holds that position so highly, we are talking about people’s loved ones.

"Funeral poverty is a real thing, where are you going to just find £4,000?”

Stevenson-Hamilton was first investigated following a complaint in September 2019, which saw his businesses in Rosyth, Cowdenbeath, Cardenden and Kirkcaldy searched.

Officers seized documentation dating back to 2015 which showed paperwork had not been processed correctly. The majority of those who believed they had paid for plans have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket with no active policy in place.