A woman who stole almost €12,000 from the Dublin city centre pub where she worked as general manager has walked free from court with a suspended sentence.
Donna McGarry (38) pleaded guilty to two counts of theft at Four Dame Lane carried out on dates between October 4 and November 6, 2017.
At Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today, Judge Melanie Greally sentenced McGarry to two and a half years in prison, but suspended it in full.
The judge set a headline sentence of three years but gave McGarry credit for her early guilty plea, her good work history and the excellent testimonial from her current employer.
Judge Greally said McGarry was someone of “otherwise good character” who had held a responsible position within the Odeon Group where she had access to cash flow and bank accounts.
The Odeon Group owns the pub Four Dame Lane in Dublin city centre.
The judge said McGarry had “succumbed to the temptation” of using her employers’ money to tackle her own particularly difficult financial situation.
She said McGarry had no previous convictions and had fully repaid the money stolen, which amounted to €11,900.
The court heard previously that McGarry, of Griffith Hall, Griffith Avenue, Dublin, had been under severe financial pressure at the time of the offences and had suffered a miscarriage.
Ian Woodland BL, defending, told the court that McGarry was currently employed full-time in the hospitality sector, in a position where she is responsible for cash flow.
“In the agony of the moment when the sheriff was knocking on her door, she forgot what was right,” said Mr Woodland. “She also had the trauma of being 13 weeks’ pregnant and losing that child,” he added.
Garda Eimear Fagan told Antonia Boyle BL, prosecuting, that the thefts were reported by a representative of the Odeon Group, which owns the pub Four Dame Lane.
Paul Hopkins, operations manager of the Odeon Group, told gardaí he had noticed shortages in the daily cash balance of Four Dame Lane for six different dates in 2017.
He said that at the time, McGarry was general manager and responsible for managing the payroll, among other duties. She was also a keyholder for the premises.
The court heard that on days when McGarry had sole responsibility for balancing cash at the end of the day, there were discrepancies between the till reports and the cash float, with shortfalls of varying amounts of money.
The largest sum to go missing was noticed on November 7, 2017, when Mr Hopkins and a colleague went to check the safe.
There was a shortage of €7,224 missing from the cash float balance and a number of cash lodgement bags were also missing.
Mr Hopkins told gardaí that he met McGarry, who made full admissions and undertook to repay all the money.
On arrest, McGarry cooperated fully and told gardaí she was in extreme financial difficulties with mounting medical bills and the sheriff knocking at her door.
“I was way over my head, the sheriff was threatening to repossess my apartment, I panicked. There’s no other way of putting it,” McGarry told gardaí, adding that she meant to pay back the money within a short period.
“I had rung everyone, I’d applied for loans, but there was no way, my credit rating was non-existent,” she added.
The court heard McGarry had been supporting her mother who lived with her and was out of work due to injury. She also owed mortgage payments on her apartment and associated management fees.
McGarry said she only took cash on two occasions but that because of varying lodgement dates, it looked like there had been six different occasions.
The court heard McGarry had worked at the pub for over seven years and had ten staff under her. She apologised to all parties and was truly remorseful, the court heard.
Mr Woodland handed in a positive reference from McGarry’s current employer, which he said emphasised that this offence was totally out-of-character for her.
Mr Hopkins had prepared a Victim Impact Statement on behalf of the Odeon Group, but once he heard that the monies were being repaid in full, he indicated that he was happy not to read out his statement.
Judge Greally ordered McGarry to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for the duration of the suspended sentence.