Friday 17 August 2018

Principal charged with €450k fraud over pupil numbers

Helen O’Gorman (57) of Newtown Lawns, Mullingar, Co Westmeath has been sent forward for trial. Photo: Michelle Ghee.
Helen O’Gorman (57) of Newtown Lawns, Mullingar, Co Westmeath has been sent forward for trial. Photo: Michelle Ghee.

Aisling Kiernan

A LONGFORD primary school principal has been sent forward for trial to the next sittings of Longford Circuit Court after being charged with defrauding the Department of Education of €450,000.

Helen O’Gorman (57), Newtown Lawns, Mullingar, Co Westmeath - a former principal at St Mary’s National School in Edgeworthstown - appeared before Judge Seamus Hughes at Longford District Court on Friday charged under Section 7 of the Criminal Justice Act with six counts of deceiving the Department of Education on dates between September 2012 and June 2015 by falsely attesting to the number of pupils at the school so that she could acquire the services of a greater number of teachers and grants - supports that the the school was not entitled to. 

During this morning’s brief court hearing, Sergeant Tom Quinn gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution.

Judge Seamus Hughes heard Ms O’Gorman made no reply after caution following her arrest last week in respect of the matter before him.  

The Judge then asked Sergeant Quinn about department inspections at the Co Longford primary school and whether or not any had been conducted in recent years. 

“To be honest, it appears there was no inspections at the school for years,” said Sergeant Quinn, before pointing to the fact that Ms O’Gorman, through her actions, had defrauded the State of €450,000.  

“Ms O’Gorman overstated pupil numbers at the school over a number of years and this lead to the creation of extra teaching posts and grants.

“There was no personal gain involved.” 

Meanwhile, the court was told that the Book of Evidence had been served on the defendant.

Meanwhile, Frank Gearty on behalf of Luie Kiernan solicitor addressed the court.

He said it was imperative that the court was clear about the fact that his client did not make any personal financial gain as a direct result of her actions at the school.

The court was also told that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had directed the defendant be sent forward for trial to the next sittings of Longford Circuit Court which take place on May 31. 

No applications were made by Ms O’Gorman’s legal team and she was subsequently remanded on bail to appear back before Longford Circuit Court next month.

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