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Kildare accountant gets three year sentence for theft

A Kildare accountant who stole €80,000 from her employers, Snap Printing, over the course of three years has been sentenced to three years.

Alix Long (35) used company cheques to pay personal bills such as a speeding ticket and music lessons for her child. The court heard the directors of the company had to use their own money to keep the company going after the theft was uncovered.

Judge Martin Nolan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court imposed a three year term but suspended all but 16 months after taking into account her efforts to repay the money.

The judge rejected a defence application to allow Long to remain free to repay the remainder of the money. He said that despite the strong mitigating factors he had no choice but to impose a jail sentence.

“When she stole she knew what she was doing and did so over a prolonged period of time,” Judge Nolan commented.

The mother of three had previously promised to repay the stolen money with €58,000 she made from the sale of her home. However her defence counsel said she was forced to spend this on day to day living.

Long, of The Cresent, Earls Court, Kill pleaded guilty to theft of €79,371.81 from Snap Printing at Baldonnell Industrial Estate between April 28, 2004 and January 1, 2007.

Sergeant Philip Burke told prosecuting counsel, Gerardine Small BL, that Long began work as a financial accountant with the company in 2004. In April she began making unauthorised payroll payments into her personal account.

These payments increased over time and the total amount was nearly €60,000 when she left the job in 2007.

On a previous date the court heard that during the same period she also started making out a large number of company cheques to herself or her creditors including the Motor Tax Office, Bord Gáis and two payments to a BMW dealership. Nearly €20,000 was stolen in this way.

The thefts came to light after Long had left the company and was replaced by another accountant who noticed “a litany of mistakes” in the accounts.

The new accountant investigated the mistakes and reported it to the company who alerted gardai. Long was arrested and interviewed in March 2007. She made full admissions but was shocked when told the total amount she had stolen.

She said she intended to pay the money back after she sold her family home following the breakdown of her marriage.

Defence counsel, John Byrne BL, said she made €58,000 from the sale of the home but had to use this for day to day living. Since then she has managed to repay €26,000 of the stolen money.

Counsel that Long had fallen into financial difficulties when she got married in 2004 and had started stealing around that time. He said the thefts stopped shortly after she began a relationship with her current partner with whom she now lives.

Mr Byrne said his client was in severe financial difficulty and began to self harm and drink heavily around this time. He added that Long and her current partner are struggling to save their home from repossession.