Courts

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Depressed mum who embezzled €190k spent cash on tarot readings

Sonya McLean and Declan Brennan

Published 17/01/2014 | 02:30

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Tarot cards

A MOTHER of two has been jailed for a year after embezzling almost €190,000 from two employers, including the National Concert Hall.

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A court was told that although Mary O'Toole (44) had severe financial pressures at the time due to mounting debt, she spent the money on tarot reading hotlines and "nonsense" internet shopping.

O'Toole manipulated payroll systems to lodge thousands into her bank accounts through hundreds of transactions.

O'Toole of Elmfield Drive, Clarehall, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sample charges of theft from Forest Tosara Ltd on dates between April 30, 2008 and September 16, 2010.

She also admitted theft of a computer hard drive from the company on February 14, 2011. Judge Mary Ellen Ring said this was an effort by O'Toole to cover her tracks.

O'Toole also pleaded guilty to sample charges of theft, totalling €49,820, from the National Concert Hall on dates between December 13, 2011 and February 22, 2012.

O'Toole began offending after her marriage broke down.

She was diagnosed with depression in 2004 and suffered stress-related alopecia.

Judge Ring said that O'Toole has lost her good name, and would find it impossible to find work in her chosen payroll profession.

The judge imposed a sentence of three years imprisonment backdated to December 18, 2013, and suspended the last two years.

BOGUS

Detective Garda Darren Burke told the court that O'Toole manipulated Forest Tosara's payroll system to lodge €139,848 into her bank accounts.

She was initially suspended without pay in February 2011 when a colleague became suspicious and confronted her.

The next day the relevant documentation went missing along with her computer.

Detective Garda Adrian Kelly of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation said the accused secured an agency contract the following December, as an account clerk with the National Concert Hall.

She used a bogus CV that didn't include details of her position with Forest Tosara.

She went on to steal from them by directing legitimate payments to creditors into her own bank accounts again by manipulating the company's automated computer system.

When some of the companies queried the late payments, O'Toole transferred money from her account to the relevant company to cover her tracks.

Aileen Donnelly, defending, said O'Toole was diagnosed with depression when she was going through a particularly stressful period due to "marital disharmony".

Counsel said that although the trigger for the offence was financial difficulty, the accused "engaged in a nonsense type of spending", instead of paying off the mortgage.

Her spending included ringing tarot reading phone-lines and buying goods and clothes over the internet that she was never going to use or wear.

She said O'Toole accepted that there was a breach of trust involved and that she was extremely remorseful.

The court was also told that the amount outstanding to the National Concert Hall was €24,684.

Irish Independent

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