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Court told £18,000 stolen by employee

A HOUSEKEEPER stole more than £18,000 from Hollywood star Clark Gable's former personal secretary after she retired to the Highlands with her husband, a court was told.

Vera Hollidge had worked closely with Mr Gable during filming of the 1953 film Mogambo, which also starred Ava Gardner and was shot in Africa.

When Mrs Hollidge retired to Fort Augustus, Inverness-shire, with her husband Kenneth - who ran electricity companies in Africa - they employed Kathleen Johnston as housekeeper, Inverness Sheriff Court was told.

The couple, who were in their 80s, lived a prudent lifestyle, enjoying meals once or twice a week at the local Caledonian Hotel, the trial was told.

But, the court heard, Ms Johnston, 55, of Fort Augustus, needed to fund her online gambling habit and fraudulently presented cheques worth £2212 at the local bank, stealing the Hollidges' bank card and using it to steal £16,251 over a two-year period from December 2009.

Mr and Mrs Hollidge retired from England to the Highlands many years ago. Mrs Hollidge died in 2010.

The couple's son, John, said his father had a handsome pension and they were well-off.

Mr Hollidge, 64, a former policeman and undercover investigator, told the court he felt sick after a family lawyer told him of "alarming" discrepancies in his parents' bank accounts.

Ms Johnston has pled not guilty to the charges and lodged special defences of alibi and consent.

The trial continues.

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