THE sister of former First Minister Lord Jack McConnell was granted a temporary reprieve this week for stealing £9,000 from a pensioner she was supposed to be caring for.

Anne McConnell could have been jailed for up to a year for her crime, which was branded “despicable” by Sheriff Elizabeth McFarlane.

But the sheriff gave McConnell extra time to pay back the money after hearing she has left her home on the Isle of Arran and moved to Kilmarnock as she tries to sell the island property.

McConnell, 51, told police officers probing her crime she would ask her Labour peer brother to pay back the money, which was reduced to £9,000 from £17,900 after striking a deal with prosecutors.

But Jack refused to foot the bill and Anne had to put her house on the market and sell some of her possessions to pay the £9,000 she owes.

Earlier this year, McConnell admitted swiping the cash from an 80-year-old woman, who suffers from severe arthritis, while working as her carer on the Arran.

In February, Sheriff McFarlane told McConnell, who could be jailed for up to a year for the theft, to pay back the full £9,000 within three months.

At the time the court heard she owed just over £7,000 of the £9,000 as she had made repayments.

But when McConnell returned to the dock at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court yesterday (Tuesday) it

emerged there was still money outstanding.

Defence solicitor Gordon Ghee explained: “I hold £2,601 and she has given me another £400 today.

“She is extremely regretful of her behaviour towards this old lady, the complainer in this case.

“Her house is for sale on the island of Arran and there is approximately £20,000 of equity in the property.

“Once the house is sold and that amount is paid, full repayment can be made.”

The solicitor also said he was unsure if McConnell had got a letter from her GP, as requested, to say whether or not she was fit for unpaid work.

He explained: “She has given me a big folder today - I’m sure if there’s a letter in there I can retrieve it.

“She’s been more concerned with the repayment.

“She has given me a list of items she’s sold, household items and a horsebox.”

Sheriff McFarlane deferred sentence on McConnell for a further six weeks for further repayment of the money to the bank, who reimbursed the pensioner she stole from, and to find out whether or not she is fit for unpaid work.

The disgraced carer still has the threat of a 12-month jail term hanging over her head.

McConnell stole the pensioner’s life savings between February and August last year after getting hold of the OAP’s bank card and PIN number and cleaning out her savings account.

The theft came to light when she went off on sick leave, the pensioner noticed the money was gone and her new carer contacted the police, leading to McConnell being detained and pulled in for questioning.

McConnell told officers she’d stolen the money because she was going through the menopause and needed it to pay her mortgage - and hoped Labour peer Jack would help out.

Procurator Fiscal Depute Claire McEvinney told a hearing in January: “She apologised and said her brother would pay the money back.

“She said she needed it to pay her mortgage and said she wasn’t right in the head because of the menopause.”

But Jack, who was First Minister of Scotland between 2001 and 2007, refused to help his sister, meaning she had to put her house up for sale in a bid to raise the money she stole.

Defence solicitor Peter Lockhart, representing McConnell at a hearing in February, said she had “scrimped and saved” enough money to pay back £1,650 of the £9,000 - and insisted the pensioner had not been left out of pocket.

He explained: “The bank made full repayment on August 19, the loss is to the bank. In her police interview the police officer said to her that she had made a comment that she would get the money back from her brother.

“She said, ‘I just meant I would ask if he’d help out to get the money back’.

“He asked, ‘have you spoken to Jack in relation to this?’ She replied, ‘no, not yet’.

The lawyer also said it “beggars belief” that she stole the money as she is a “caring individual.”

McConnell will learn her fate in July.