A FORMER chief executive of a suicide awareness charity who admitted stealing over €36,000 from the organisation has avoided a jail term.
Declan Behan (42), of Boyne View, Slane, Co Meath, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to six sample charges of theft from the Irish Association of Suicidology (IAS) on dates between November 2010 and September 2012.
Judge Patricia Ryan sentenced him to three years in prison but suspended it in full for four years.
In lieu of a sentence, Behan was ordered to complete 240 hours of community service.
The court heard that Behan had been on a salary of €70,000, but he used the organisation's visa card for around 300 unauthorised transactions totalling €36,540. He used the card to withdraw cash from ATMs but also for electronic payments.
The IAS is a registered charity with an annual budget for €150,000, and was set up to promote suicide awareness through publishing pamphlets and organising conferences.
The HSE is responsible for 60pc of its funding, which was suspended pending the garda investigation. It has since been re-instated but not to the same extent. The IAS, while fully functioning again, has not appointed a new chief executive.
Detective Sergeant Barry Walsh said Behan used the cash for everyday living expenses and to supplement his income.
Judge Ryan confirmed that all of the stolen money, totalling €36,540, had been returned to the association.
She pointed out that the association did not wish Behan to serve a custodial sentence.