Thursday 19 April 2018

Mother of two who stole nearly €5,000 from former employers avoids jail

Paula Reid “double-dipped” when paying herself wages, a court heard.
Paula Reid “double-dipped” when paying herself wages, a court heard.

By Nicola Donnelly

A Louth mother of two who stole nearly €5,000 from her former employers over a two and a half year period has avoided jail.

Paula Reid “double-dipped” when paying herself wages when she worked as a payroll clerk for an embroidery company. The court was told she was going through a distressing time with a divorce and her son had sustained a serious injury following an accident.

Reid (51) of Marian Park, Drogheda, Co Louth pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 12 counts of theft on dates between June 2010 and September 2012 totalling €4,790.97 from Hugh Burrows & Sons Ltd, based on Clonard Street in Balbriggan, Co Dublin.

Judge Patricia Ryan sentenced Reid to 200 hours of community service instead of two years in jail on six of the counts, and gave her a two year sentence suspended in full on the remaining six counts.

Garda Vincent Healy told Noel Davitt BL, prosecuting, that the thefts came to light after auditors found discrepancies in the company accounts.

Reid initially denied stealing the money, saying that perhaps the bank made a mistake when she was approached by one of the company directors, Graham Burrows. She had worked in the company for 30 years and had more recently been put in charge of the accounts and payroll.

Det Gda Healy said Reid was responsible for paying wages to the employers and on 12 occasions she paid herself a double weekly wage.

He agreed with counsel that they were like “bonus payments of an extra week’s wages” and “double-dip payments.”

Reid was suspended from her job at the beginning of January 2013 on full pay and was fired at the end of that month.

“She was arrested but remained silent on an explanation,” said Det Gda Healy.

She later admitted the thefts and has since paid back the money in the form of a bank draft, the court heard.

Det Gda Healy agreed with Derek Kenneally, SC, defending, that the double payments to Reid were “not well hidden” and clearly visible on the bank statements stating Reid as a payee.

Mr Kenneally said there were another 53 counts of alleged theft that the Director of Public Prosecutions did not proceed with and that Reid pleaded guilty to the 12 counts at the earliest opportunity.

“It was a grievous breach of trust over a two and a half year period and she is deeply remorseful and wants to apologise publically for the pain, distress and annoyance to her former employees,” said Mr Kenneally.

“It was completely out of character for her and she did not have a lavish lifestyle,” he said, adding that the money she stole became part of her income for day to day expenses.

“She cannot offer any substantive reason other than the stresses she was under,” he said.

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