Friday 24 November 2017

Fraud-probe worker 'lost €20,000 a day betting'

Manager of post office has not been seen since last Wednesday

Niamh Horan, Jim Cusack and  BRENDAN FURLoNG in CARLOW

The postal manager who went missing following the discovery of a €2m fraud at Gorey Post Office is believed to have been losing €20,000 a day gambling online with Paddy Power.

It is understood that Tony O'Reilly, 36, who disappeared last Wednesday on his way from his home in Carlow to his work in Gorey Post Office, has since been in contact with a family member from an internet connection in Northern Ireland.

Gardai and postal authorities are now investigating the massive fraud -- which this weekend could have risen to €2m -- and have interviewed members of staff after an internal audit discovered the "black hole" in the finances of the post office branch.

Mr O'Reilly, who lives in Carlow town, has been missing for the past four days.

Last night Paddy Power said it could not comment on individual clients: "Our relationship with our customers is private and we do not discuss individual customers. Should any of our customers have an issue with gambling, we have many measures in place to assist them."

Up to yesterday there had been no sighting of Mr O'Reilly or his car. He did not have his passport when he disappeared after telling his wife he was on the way to work.

The full extent of the alleged fraud was not determined until Friday after post office chiefs were alerted to financial irregularities.

Gardai called in the assistance of the garda fraud squad as they stepped up their inquiries into the disappearance of the cash.

Gardai are anxious to interview all of the staff in the post office, including Mr O'Reilly.

Mr O'Reilly left his home at 6.30am to drive to the post office in Gorey. His wife Lorraine (nee O'Grady), a native of Skeaghvonsteen, Graignamanagh, Co Kilkenny, became concerned when she received a text message from his work mobile stating that he had been involved in a car crash near Tullow while on his way to work.

Mrs O'Reilly helped gardai in Gorey garda station with their inquiries throughout Friday before returning home. Later she went to her parents' home in Skeaghvonsteen for fear of media attention after news of her husband's disappearance became public.

It is also understood that gardai are examining the content of the text message to his wife which was not the usual English grammar he used when texting home.

Internal auditors were present in Gorey Post Office throughout last Wednesday and it's believed they also received a text message from Mr O'Reilly stating that he had crashed in Tullow.

A garda source said yesterday that all CCTV footage along the route from Carlow to Gorey was being examined by them in a bid to piece together his movements. Of the tapes examined so far, his car has not been spotted.

Officers are examining phone records and it is understood a text message sent from his work mobile was last picked up from a telecommunications mast in Gorey on Wednesday morning.

There has been no contact from him since then and his Volkswagen Golf car has not been located.

After it was established that he had not turned up at work that morning, gardai at Gorey and Carlow were notified. Officers were initially concerned that Mr O'Reilly might have been abducted as part of a tiger kidnap by a crime gang targeting a ransom in the post office.

Mr O'Reilly, the father of a 10-month-old daughter, normally carried two mobile phones but neither has been in use since then. There have been no recent transactions in his bank accounts.

Gardai said his disappearance is being treated at this stage as a missing person case but acknowledged they would be anxious to speak to him along with all the other staff at the post office as their inquiries progressed into fraud.

Members of Mr O'Reilly's family and dozens of friends and acquaintances have been searching the mountains in Wicklow and also checking side roads on the route between Carlow town and Gorey over the past three days in a bid to establish some clues as to his whereabouts.

A full inquiry has now been initiated by An Post's internal investigation unit and will be carried out in parallel with the garda investigation.

Sunday Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News