Wednesday 24 April 2019

Thief faces jail due to cost of 60-a-day habit, warns judge

Stock photo
Stock photo

Ciaran Murphy

A man could not repay Scouting Ireland the bulk of the €12,308 he stole from it because of a "very, very heavy" 60-per-day smoking habit that costs him €200 per week, a court was told.

Edward Hartley (46), of Lismore Park, Co Waterford, last year pleaded guilty to six counts of theft from the organisation between September 1, 2013 and June 16, 2014.

The former supervisor, a scouting volunteer who was effectively treasurer in Waterford, was using funds and then writing cheques from his own account to Scouting Ireland in order to fill in the void.

When incoming units arrived in Waterford, they would hand over fees to Hartley, which in turn would be handed over to Scouting Ireland.

However, Hartley kept these funds for himself on six occasions. Defending barrister David Bulbulia told Circuit Court Judge Eugene O'Kelly how "there was a pattern of him taking money from Scouting Ireland and repaying them".

Hartley was based at the National Scout Centre in Mount Melleray, in the Knockmealdown Mountains.

The matter was adjourned from May 2017 to allow the then self-employed glazier a chance to repay the sum.

Mr Bulbulia BL told the court some €4,000 had been repaid, the remainder of the money could not because "he is a very, very heavy smoker who spends €200 per week on cigarettes". Hartley smokes 60 a day.

Judge O'Kelly noted that if Hartley had diverted the money he had spent on smoking to repaying his debts, the outstanding €8,308 would have been repaid to Scouting Ireland.

From now, Hartley can "look at a packet of cigarettes and think of going to prison".

Judge O'Kelly added: "Anyone who steals from a charitable organisation can expect to go to prison."

"I am not prepared to put this on the never-never."

In May 2017, the court heard that Hartley drank 10 pints of beer per day and had a serious gambling problem.

The since-unemployed glazier has in recent weeks found work in Dublin.

The matter was adjourned until October 9.

Irish Independent

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