A SCOTTISH hotel's general manager and chef conned the establishment owner out of thousands of pounds with the creation of a fake employee.

On Monday, Inverness Sheriff Court heard that manager 45-year-old James McEachern and chef 53-year-old Graham Smith worked together to con the owner of the Balmacara Hotel in Kyle of Lochalsh in 2019.

Spanish owner Victor Navarro was conned out of a total of £18,226.16 after it was transferred into the "bank account" of a fake employee - David Smith.

The account actually belonged to chef Smith and the pair split the pay packets.

McEachern, from Sealladh na Beinne in Fort William, pleaded guilty alongside Smith, Cearnag, Chabar Feidh, Broadford, of creating a fraudulent scheme by inventing the employee between June 14 2019 and December 10 2019.

READ MORE: Scottish restaurant closes permanently after 21 years

McEachern also hired a teenage family member to work for 30 days but paid him £8,770.98 when he was only due £1,980. The former manager pleaded guilty to the charge of embezzlement.

Fiscal depute Emily Hood told Sheriff Sara Matheson: “Mr Navarro noticed that the money being paid out at the hotel in salaries was higher than he expected, as such he requested a copy of the payroll and further information from the accounting company.”

She added that another employee at the hotel, Juan Santos, met with the owner in Valencia at the end of October 2019 and he confirmed who worked at the hotel.

Hood said that it was this meeting that it was discovered the fictitious employee who had never worked there and that the family relative had only worked there for 30 days.

The two confessed to the scheme during interviews with police in November 2020.

Sentencing was differed for background reports and their bail continues.