A GUESTHOUSE assistant defrauded her employer out of more than €14,000 to fund a secret gambling addiction, then went missing when she was found out.
Avril Mordaunt (44) stole the money by forging cheques and withdrawing money from her boss's accounts, after being entrusted with the victim's PIN numbers. She also failed to make credit union lodgments, instead pocketing the cash herself.
Dublin District Court heard she had been working for 11 years for the owner, who was also her close friend, when she carried out the thefts at the B&B in Ballsbridge.
When the victim reported her to the gardai, she vanished for five days to the alarm of her distraught family who knew nothing about what she had done.
Mordaunt was fined €1,000 for the thefts from Bridget Brady of Shelbourne Townhouse B&B.
The accused, of Fitzwilliam Point, Ringsend pleaded guilty to more than 70 counts of theft between 2007 and 2010.
Detective Garda Sinead O'Connor of Donnybrook Station told the court Ms Brady (63) reported the thefts in April 2010. The defendant had stolen cheques and stubs and had forged Ms Brady's signature on them, making them out to herself in sums of up to €1,172
Mordaunt also used the victim's credit card to withdraw cash from various locations after being entrusted with the PIN for use when Ms Brady left the country.
There was also a single count of theft for using the B&B's gold visa card. There were 33 counts of theft for failing to lodge €100 credit union payments on Ms Brady's behalf.
The total taken was €14,237. AIB had repaid the victim just under €8,000, but she was still out of pocket for more than €6,000.
The court heard the defendant had no previous convictions. She was fully co-operative with the garda investigation and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
Mordaunt had been in "pretty dire" financial circumstances at the time, her solicitor Noelle Kenny said.
"She developed a very serious gambling addiction which spiralled out of control and led her into a situation where she carried out these offences," Ms Kenny said.
She went missing and her family, who were not aware of her problem, did not know where she was for five days.
Mordaunt was now attending a clinical psychologist and Gamblers Anonymous.
Judge Dunne said there was no practical reality to Mordaunt, who had lost her job and was now unemployed, paying compensation.
Det Garda O'Connor said the victim was "very upset" by what happened.
"She lost a good friend but understands she had to do what she did in coming to the gardai," the detective said.
Judge Cormac Dunne said there had obviously been a relationship of "extraordinary trust" between the two women.
"It appears (Mordaunt) had the run of the place, to use the colloquialism, and the unconditional confidence of Ms Brady, and resulting from this, she defrauded Ms Brady," the judge said.