A civil servant who while working as an administrative officer with the court service embezzled over €35,000 that was to be paid against fines has been sentenced to one year in prison.
Jonathan Gilmore (42) stole cash that had been paid by members of the public to offset fines issued against them. He would then use cash from a later fine to pay off the original fine.
Gilmore of Rowman House, Mespil Road, came forward to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on signed pleas of guilty from the District Court in relation to 50 charges of theft on dates from September 6, 2010 to August 20, 2012.
He has no previous convictions and has since paid back all the money he had stolen.
The separated father-of-two had been working as a higher executive officer at the time of his arrest but has since been dismissed. He had both gambling and significant personal debts at the time.
Garda Colin Davidson told James Dwyer BL, defending, that Gilmore was the most co-operative person he has ever dealt with in his career.
He accepted he had effectively “built the case against himself” bringing his 21-year career as a civil servant to an end.
He agreed with counsel that Gilmore effectively “pocketed” fines paid to him and when someone came in weeks later to pay another fine, he would use this cash against the first fine, “thereby extending his line of credit”.
Mr Dwyer said it came to a point when that “line of credit extended”, people had penal warrants issued against them and the thefts came to light.
“He could not continue with this Peter to pay Paul because there were far too many Pauls,” counsel said. “Things started to get out of control and he couldn’t get a handle on it.”
Gda Davidson agreed with Mr Dwyer that Gilmore told gardaí when he first met them that “I knew this day was coming”.
“I have not slept for the last six months. You would go to bed thinking of it and wake up thinking of it,” he said in interview.
“I am very sorry to the people who it affected and my colleagues, I will take what’s coming,” Gilmore told officers.
Analysis of an account Gilmore had with Boyle Sports showed that he had spent €440,000 between 2008 and 2013 on various bets.
Mr Dwyer accepted that the court has to consider “the issue of deterrence” but suggested that “the interest of justice does not require his immediate incarceration”.
“He is penniless. His life is in pieces. He has ruined himself and has paid off every penny,” counsel said before he added that Gilmore has started to re-train in computing in the hope of securing future employment.
Judge Martin Nolan had adjourned the case overnight having heard evidence on Wednesday.
He said Gilmore had “the perfect mitigation” as he had cooperated completely, handed over his diary and saved the guards a lot of work.
The judge said that apart from this fall from grace, Gilmore had been an “exemplary citizen” and suffered considerably himself as a result of his own actions.
He said he was imposing a custodial sentence because Gilmore had betrayed a position of trust where he was taking monies on behalf of the State.
“It gives me no great pleasure at all to do this because I have a degree of sympathy for him. He found himself in a very human dilemma and committed a gross error of judgement,” said Judge Nolan.
Gda Davidson told John Byrne BL, prosecuting, that gardaí were notified in January 2013 to possible irregularities in the fines office at the Court Service.
The Court Service had also received complaints from members of the public who had been issued penal warrants for fines they had already paid.
The garda investigation involved interviewing and taking statements from the various people who claimed to have paid their fines and analysis of the accounts and banking records relating to the fines office.
On April 10, 2013, Gilmore was asked to come to Bridewell Garda Station and when asked if he knew what he was going to be questioned about he said he knew it related to his work with the Court Service.
He said he was happy to co-operate and Gda Davidson said he made full admissions in relation to the theft.
The next day Gilmore gave gardaí pages from a diary he had kept in relation to the amounts he had stolen and when he had taken them.
He said when he first began taking the cash; he would pay it back within a week or so after he took another payment in relating to a different fine.
However, as time went on he found himself in a position where he could not pay the money back.
Mr Dwyer said his client was on secondment from the Department of Justice when he took up the position in the Court Service. He was back working in the Department of Justice when the thefts came to light.
He submitted to the court that Gilmore was financially vulnerable at the time and gambling was a way of life for him.