THE former head of the HSE's ambulance service, who resigned after the improper use of a fuel card emerged, has been awarded €250,000 compensation for constructive dismissal.
But Judge Alan Mahon reduced the award to Frank McClintock (49) by 20pc to €200,000 because of his earlier conduct in using the fuel card for his own use.
The judge told Derry-based Mr McClintock that the loss he had suffered since he left his role almost four years ago was very significant and certainly greater than the maximum €250,000 compensation he could award.
He told Senior Counsel Frank Callanan, who appeared with barrister Miriam Reilly for Mr McClintock at the Circuit Civil Court yesterday, that his client's inappropriate use of the fuel card would have warranted and deserved a penalty of some nature by the HSE.
Judge Mahon had heard evidence over two weeks in a challenge by Mr McClintock against an Employment Appeals Tribunal finding that, although constructively dismissed, he was not deserving of any compensation because of "pre-dismissal events".
HSE counsel John O'Donnell had counter-appealed and asked the court to overturn the tribunal's finding of constructive dismissal.
Judge Mahon found that when Mr McClintock -- who was earning a salary of around €100,000 -- attended a meeting in March 2012 he did not know the main focus would relate to his use of the fuel card or that the HSE had obtained CCTV footage clearly identifying him using it at a filling station.
A report found that Mr McClintock had misappropriated €9,300 and "only admitted the truth" when evidence emerged. He had been led to believe, before volunteering his resignation, that the matter would be referred to the gardai.
Judge Mahon believed Mr McClintock's anxiety to resign was a consequence of his discovery at an early stage that he had been found guilty of very serious misconduct without having been afforded the opportunity to defend himself.
"I am satisfied Mr McClintock's resignation was not voluntary and that he was constructively dismissed," he said.
Following the judgment Mr McClintock issued a statement in which he said: "I feel vindicated now. It has been a long, hard four years for myself and my family but it's the first day of the rest of our lives."