Wednesday 15 August 2018

Macroom woman who stole €200k from employer avoids jail

Money was repaid and 'shamed' 51-year-old was unlikely to reoffend, says judge

A 51-year-old Mid Cork woman who stole over €200,000 from her employer over half of her 22 years employment has been given a five year suspended sentence after a judge heard that she had repaid the money and was unlikely to ever offend again.

Margaret McCarthy Creedon from the Sally Gardens, Millstreet Road, Macroom, had pleaded guilty to six sample charges from a total of 50 charges that she stole a total of €205,000 from her employer, Macroom Haulage between 2000 and 2013.

Judge Gerard O'Brien has adjourned the matter at Cork Circuit Criminal Court until last Friday to allow Ms McCarthy Creedon be assessed as to her suitability for community service but he said on Friday that the offences were too serious and their seriousness had to be marked by a sentence.

He said that the greatest aggravating factor in the case was the fact that Ms McCarthy Creedon's offending was not a once off, spur of the moment matter but had continued for 13 years including at times when she was aware the company was struggling to survive.

Last month, Macroom Haulage owner Paddy Murphy told how Ms McCarthy Creedon had worked for his company for 22 years as a bookkeeper and he found her crimes difficult to comprehend, given their two families had been close. But the effect of her crime went beyond simply the stolen money.

"It is difficult to express the degree of hurt and betrayal we feel... Particularly between the years 2009 and 2014 when a sum of nearly €70,000 was taken when the company was struggling during the recession and all the staff, including myself, took cuts in pay and salary," he said.

Mr Murphy recalled how Ms McCarthy Creedon had been a personal friend to him and his family and they had attended many of her family occasions, including birthdays. She had attended similar occasions for his family, including those of two of his sons who work in the company.

He acknowledged that Ms McCarthy Creedon had paid back the money and written a letter of apology but the injury went beyond the money and, while they had managed to save the company, they continue to feel a huge emotional impact as a result of her crime.

"We are shaken, we are angry, we are upset, we are cross, we are suffering," Mr Murphy told Judge O'Brien in a Victim Impact Statement that he read himself to the court as Ms McCarthy Creedon sat with her head bowed in the dock.

Last Friday, Judge O'Brien said the sense of hurt and anger felt by the Murphy family was entirely understandable, given she knew the sacrifices the owners and employers were making to help the company survive the economic downturn and she still stole money from them.

However he said that there were also mitigating factors in McCarthy Creedon's favour, including the fact that the separated mother of three had repaid all the money and had immediately admitted the crime and co-operated fully with gardai when she was first confronted about the thefts.

Equally important was the fact that she had pleaded guilty to the charges and spared the State a long and complex trial, and this was all the more pertinent given that the investigating officer, Det Garda Tom O'Sullivan, had since retired from the force, he said.

Judge O'Brien noted that Ms McCarthy Creedon had no previous convictions and he was satisfied from a probation report that she would have neither the opportunity nor the desire to commit similar offences again and he was satisfied that she would not come before the courts again.

He also noted that she had suffered considerable public shame and embarrassment in her local community as the matter had been highly publicised in the Macroom area and she had written a letter expressing her remorse and regret which he believed was genuine.

These were all matters in her favour but he had to mark the seriousness of the offending as the thefts were on the middle to upper end of the scale for such crimes. He said he believed the appropriate term was seven years with a two years discount for her guilty plea.

However, because she had repaid all of the money, had no previous convictions and was unlikely to come before the courts again, he said he would suspend the five year term on condition that she be of good behaviour and keep the peace for five years.