Saturday 21 October 2017

Grandmother avoids jail for theft of €10k from school to pay bills and mortgage arrears

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin

Declan Brennan

A former office manager for a school has avoided jail for the theft of €10,350 from her employer after the court heard she has paid back the stolen money in full.

Over a five year period grandmother Antoinette Connolly (53) stole €100 every month from Killester College in north Dublin.

After the thefts emerged she told gardaí that she spent the money paying household bills and mortgage repayment arrears.

Connolly of Clooncarrick, Carrigallen, Co Leitrim pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four sample counts of theft from Killester College on Collins Avenue East, on dates between October 2006 and October 2011.

The offending included the theft of €4,250 worth of cheques and postal orders.

Garda Manus Keane told Martina Baxter BL, prosecuting, that Connolly had been receiving cash payments for fees even though it was against the college policy.

He said that some staff noticed this but the thefts only emerged in 2011 after Connolly went out on sick leave.

Niall Gallagher BL, defending, told the court that his client was ashamed of her actions. He said she had significant financial difficulties and spent the stolen money on bills and mortgage payments.

Her husband suffers from arthritis and hasn't worked since 2007 when she took on the role of supporting her family. The family were living in Dublin until a judgment was registered against her mortgage.

They later moved to Leitrim. Counsel said Connolly is in receipt of €188 a week in welfare payments but she has since repaid all of the money stolen.

Judge James O'Donoghue said that Connolly was under severe financial pressure at the time. He said she had paid a penalty already in the loss of her job in the college.

He noted the money has been repaid and that according to a Probation Service report there was no risk of her re-offending. He suspended a sentence of two years imprisonment on condition she keeps the peace for that period.

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