Bank worker jailed for stealing €330,000 from her employer
AN ULSTER Bank worker has been jailed for two years for stealing almost €330,000 from her employer after she failed to secure a mortgage.
Sorcha Halpin (27) had already signed a contract for a new house for herself and her partner, and four months later was put under pressure by the developer's solicitors to make full payment.
She debited the bank account of an elderly female customer by €303,500 to purchase a bank draft, which she made payable to the firm of solicitors. She told her partner she had won the lottery.
She then drew a further €2,516 from another account to buy a bank draft to cover her own solicitor's fees.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that three months later she drew €16,445 from another customer account to clear her partner's car loan.
Halpin, a mother of a six-month-old son, has since handed over the deeds of the house at Beverton Gardens, Donabate, Dublin, to the investigating detective garda. The house is vacant and she is back living in her family home.
She pleaded guilty to two charges of stealing a bank draft from Ulster Bank, Blanchardstown, Dublin, between September and December 2009. Det Gda Peter Meenan said Halpin had been working at the branch for seven years as a customer service officer and as such had access to 'suspense accounts'.
This is an account in the bank which that holds temporary funds which may be in dispute.
Det Gda Meenan said Halpin used this account to then cover her tracks and "effectively fill in the holes".
The irregularities came to the bank's attention in January of last year and Halpin was immediately identified as the culprit as she had used her own username and password to complete the transactions.
She made immediate admissions and said none of her colleagues nor any family members or friends knew of her actions.
Halpin told gardai that her partner of nine years had no idea that they had been refused a mortgage.
She was fired from Ulster Bank in March 2011
The court was told the property is now worth about €210,000 and that Halpin hopes that the bank will take that as recompense, in addition to €30,000 she had in court.
Judge Martin Nolan accepted that Halpin was "an exceptionally good person".
It was unfortunate for her, her family and young child but he said she must go to jail.