NAIVELY, when I started covering court cases for the Evening Times, I had expected those waiting to appear before the sheriff to be suited and booted.

Being in trouble with the law was such an overwhelming prospect that surely you would dressed in your smartest attire in an attempt to give the very best account of yourself. I was quite wrong.

The majority of people turning up for sentencing were in their casual clothes, appearing calm and unfussed about where life had landed them. For many, it was far from their first time.

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There was no such casualness from Natalie McGarry, a woman whose name is now regularly prefaced with the word "disgraced".

As she appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court on each occasion, she looked tense and stressed. As she was sentenced, she sobbed in the dock.

Disgraced former Glasgow SNP MP McGarry betrayed her colleagues at the grassroots Women for Independence network by stealing £21,000 from the organisation as well as money intended for Perth and Kinross foodbank and, ironically, the charity Positive Prison Positive Futures which had the motto that it gives "appreciation of people with convictions as citizens."

There is, now, very little appreciation for McGarry.

Grassroots organisations thrive only on mutual respect, shared goals and trust - this made McGarry's betrayal all the more devastating for those who had given her their trust in the work towards a common aim.

Last week McGarry was sentenced for her crime, receiving 18 months' imprisonment after pleading guilty to two charges of embezzlement.

The response was mixed. The court heard that the 37-year-old has lost her job, her friends, her reputation and, very recently, miscarried at six weeks.

Her husband, Conservative councillor David Meikle, would seem to be standing by her.

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For some, the sentence is exactly what McGarry deserves, given that she took money from a food bank - from people among the most vulnerable - and used it, in part, to go on holiday.

For others, to jail her for 18 months - the exact lifetime of her daughter - is unconscionable.

It is interesting to see the level of sympathy and support for McGarry at her sentencing when sheriffs every day in our courts lock up people with serious mental health problems and with alcohol and drug addictions.

Sit for any length of time in Glasgow Sheriff Court and you'll hear defence briefs reference any of these as mitigating factors in crimes. They are far less sympathetic characters than a woman with a young child but deserve acknowledgement nonetheless.

But for McGarry, is it right to jail a mother with a toddler?

Mothers, in the vast majority of cases, are primary care givers for children and a custodial sentence impacts negatively and unfairly on family life.

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