Irish children's charity boss swindled €65k and spent some of it on clothes, holidays and the greyhounds, court told
Expensive clothes, holidays abroad and gambling trips to the greyhounds — that is how a disgraced chief executive spent some of the €65,000 (£50,000) she swindled from a children’s charity.
Shamed Nuala Magee, 48, appeared in the dock of Craigavon Crown Court last Thursday alongside husband Declan Shannon, 44, to hear a lawyer detail how she, with his help, ripped-off Together 4 All.
At an earlier hearing the she pleaded guilty to 23 counts of false accounting, five of transferring criminal property, and a single charge of theft.
Her husband admitted two counts of possessing criminal property, namely a total of £8,360.
At first glance Magee and Shannon seemed like the perfect couple — she had an £80,000 per year job and he ran his own business.
But a weakness for the more expensive things in life led her to commit the shameful crime of stealing from a children’s charity.
Cheques that came into Together 4 All from kind donors were diverted by its chief executive Magee into her husband Shannon’s bank account.
Other monies were paid into her son Niall Atkinson’s account, who the court accepted played no part in any crime.
Instead of using this cash to improve the lives of vulnerable children in north Armagh — which is the ethos of Together 4 All — Magee was using it to fund a lavish lifestyle.
Craigavon Crown Court was told this included dinner and gambling trips to Drumbo Park greyhound track, expensive holidays abroad, and shopping trips to the House of Fraser store in Belfast.
Magee’s fraud went on for two years between October 2008 and June 2010, and even went as low as her stealing a £2,000 laptop computer from her workplace.
When Together 4 All conducted an internal financial review in June 2010, Magee resigned from her £80,000 per year chief executive job.
The audit showed missing money and the police were called into investigate. But the probe ran into difficulties at the end of last year when Nuala Magee and Declan Shannon hastily moved from their home at Crumlin, on the outskirts of Belfast, to Australia.
But despite being on the other side of the world they could not escape the long arm of the law.
In January, District Judge Bernie Kelly ordered them to return home or face warrants being issued for their arrest. She said: “There are flights that leave Australia every single day, in fact more than one.”
In March, Magee made her first public appearance in months when she stood in the dock of Craigavon Crown Court to plead guilty to 29 fraud and theft offences totalling £50,541.
Her husband Shannon also confessed to two counts of possessing criminal property.
The couple, who are at an address on the Shore Road in Belfast, will learn of their punishment when they are sentenced at the same court later this week.
Such is their shame they tried to cover their faces with hoods when they left court last Thursday.