Sunday 28 December 2014

Mum who defrauded her elderly landlady out of €27k invested €50k in racehorse

Elizabeth Stouffer (40) has been jailed for nine months at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for the deception of her former landlady Eva Trayers

Published 30/07/2014 | 18:13

Dublin Criminal Court
Dublin Criminal Court

A Sligo resident who was under investigation for defrauding her elderly landlady out of €27,750 in rent decided to invest €50,000 in a racehorse, a court has heard.

Elizabeth Stouffer (40) has been jailed for nine months at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for the deception of her former landlady Eva Trayers.

Stouffer pleaded guilty to five counts of dishonestly inducing money for rent from her ex-partner, with the intention of causing a loss to Ms Trayers, on dates between May 2009 and July 2010.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring said a custodial sentence was the only option as Stouffer had made no effort to repay any of the money to Ms Trayers.

“She hasn't even brought any moderate, modest sum to offer to Ms Trayers as a token. She took the money which she owed to Ms Trayers and spent it on a horse,” said the judge.

Judge Ring sentenced the mother-of-one, formerly of Barnaboy, Ballaghadereen, County Roscommon, and now living in Tubbercurry, Co Sligo, to two years in prison with the final 15 months suspended.

The court heard the racehorse was injured after some months of training and the money was lost.

Judge Ring said Stouffer had an “inability to face up” to her actions. She recognised that Stouffer had mental health issues and other difficulties, but said some of her problems were of her own making.

The court heard Stouffer and her former partner, Nicholas Mansfield, rented a house from Ms Trayers at St Kevin's Park, Dartry, Dublin 6 from February 2009.

The couple agreed that Mr Mansfield would pay the bills and that they would split all other costs, including rent.

Garda Gabriel Duffy told Garnett Orange BL, prosecuting, that the couple also rented out rooms to foreign students, and that money was paid to Stouffer.

Mr Mansfield gave Stouffer €400 a month towards rent, but she never lodged the money to Ms Trayer's account.

The couple later broke up, and in 2010 a letter was sent to her about the outstanding rent.

Stouffer was questioned by gardaí and initially said she had lodged the money to the wrong account, but later admitted she had spent it.

In 2012, Stouffer won a significant sum of money in a civil claim award, and spent €50,000 on a racehorse.

Jane Hogan, a stud farm owner, told the court that she looked after horses for Stouffer and had known her for nine years when they decided to “go halves” on a racehorse.

Ms Hogan said she invested €50,000 and Stouffer invested the same amount, but the money was lost when the horse was injured.

Shane Costelloe BL, defending, said Stouffer understood she had lent Ms Hogan €50,000 and would be repaid.

Mr Costelloe said his client wanted to apologise to Ms Trayers, and assure her that if she had the money now she would gladly repay it.

Judge Ring ordered Stouffer to comply with Probation Services for 15 months on her release from prison, and to follow all directions regarding employment, training and mental health care.

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