Socialite jailed for stealing €725k of Clarins goods from work
Swoop on a genuine cosmetics market stall in the North was one Dublin man's downfall, writes Gavin McLoughlin
When police officers investigating the sale of fake goods swooped on an open-air market in the North, they were quickly drawn to a modest stall selling cosmetics by the luxury French brand Clarins.
They arrested the stallholder because they thought the goods, which were being sold at hard-to-believe prices, were counterfeits.
The officers called in an expert from the Paris-headquartered firm to test the products, which retail for up to €100 per item, and were told that the goods were actually the real thing, so the PSNI did not proceed with a prosecution. However, the investigation in the North led to further inquiries by gardai south of the border over the source of the Clarins stock.
Last Thursday Dublin man Joseph Walshe (49) was sentenced to two-and-half years in prison, with the final year suspended, after it emerged he stole the Clarins products from his employer Nevinar Cosmetics and sold them on.
Gardai were led to him after they discovered Nevinar had the exclusive distribution rights in Ireland for Clarins products, the court heard.
Walshe, a businessman and socialite also known as Jody, was the general manager responsible for stock control at Nevinar when he stole the goods between November 2009 and December 2011.
In total, the stolen goods had a retail value of €725,000.
Nevinar is a major cosmetics distributor that was set up in Ireland 30 years ago by Jerry Hickey (87), who was the main witness in Walshe's trial.
Prosecuting barrister Anne Rowland told the court Walshe, of Carrickmines Dale, Carrickmines Wood, Dublin, had been convicted of 10 counts of theft in April.
The court heard Walshe ordered certain amounts of stock to be released from the warehouse and sold this to a UK-based wholesaler, who believed Walshe was acting on behalf of Nevinar.
The buyer paid for the products by transferring money into what turned out to be Walshe's personal bank account.
Walshe had ordered the products to be released under procedures used to liberate stock for marketing or training purposes, or for the removal of faulty items.
The court heard he made orders that were significantly in excess of normal levels.
The 10 counts on which Walshe was convicted saw him receive just over €200,000 for products with a retail value of more than €725,000. The company had paid €181,582 for the products.
Walshe, who is married with four children, was supported by his family, friends and colleagues at his sentencing at Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court. Many of them were in tears when the verdict was delivered.
In a letter to the court, Walshe's wife described him as a "wonderful and supportive husband", an "amazing father" and a man of "passion, honesty, trust and integrity".
More than 40 people, many of whom attended the sentencing hearing, provided testimonials in his favour.
Walshe has worked at a firm giving support to people with complex health needs since he quit his Nevinar job.
Defence barrister John D Fitzgerald said his client accepted the verdict.
Mr Fitzgerald added that Walshe, who volunteers extensively with charities, had expressed guilt and shame and offered to pay Mr Hickey the €181,582 in full.
Mr Hickey indicated that he did not wish to receive the money but Judge Pauline Codd ruled Walshe must repay his former boss.
Judge Codd added that Mr Hickey could nominate a charity to receive the money but if he does not wish to do so, then it will go to the St Vincent de Paul Society.