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Gay Pride director splashed out on gifts from stolen €10,000

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 COURT: John Finucane

COURT: John Finucane

COURT: John Finucane

A MAN has avoided jail after he stole more than €10,000 from the voluntary organisation which runs the annual Gay Pride Parade while he worked there as financial director.

John Finucane (35) of Bridgewater Quay, Islandbridge, was given a three-year suspended sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

He had pleaded guilty to stealing cash from the Dublin Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) organisation based in Capel Street on dates between October 29, 2011 and December 11, 2011.

CONVICTIONS

The charges represented Finucane using the cards for unauthorised payments totalling €10,403, over nine weeks.

Finucane has eight previous convictions, seven of them in the UK, arising from him engaging in a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old boy.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring said Finucane had taken advantage of the LGBTQ, an organisation which depends primarily on the support of donations.

"It was badly-needed money for an organisation that does work that is needed in the community," she said.

It emerged in court that Finucane's parents found out about his criminal activity by reading it in the newspapers, despite Judge Ring having warned him expressly to tell his family before they found out from the press. Lorcan Staines BL, defending, said that nonetheless, Finucane's relationship with his parents is on the mend and they have offered him accommodation after he was homeless before Christmas.

Det Garda Derek O'Rourke told Michael Bowman BL, prosecuting, that Finucane had been working in a voluntary capacity as financial director of the organisation at the time of the offences and had access to two credit cards. He either bought items with the card or withdrew cash from ATMs using the PIN that had been supplied to him. Finucane paid for hotel rooms and into nightclubs for himself and his then partner, and bought Christmas presents for his family and friends.

Det Gda O'Rourke said Finucane later told gardai that he had been planning to kill himself and was anticipating that a payment due to him could be used, upon his death, to reimburse LGBTQ.

Mr Staines told Judge Ring that Finucane does not have the funds to reimburse LGBTQ.

He said Finucane suffers from anxiety, depression and stress and had been diagnosed with a serious illness around the time of this offence.

SHORTFALL

Judge Ring said €10,000 was "a severe shortfall" to an organisation such as LGBTQ and Finucane's actions represented "a significant betrayal".

She sentenced Finucane to three years in prison but suspended it on condition that he keeps the peace for three years and complies with probation services for 18 months.

Gardai were alerted to the thefts by another director in January 2012 and Finucane made a voluntary statement the following July. By that stage he had written a letter of resignation to LGBTQ admitting the thefts and promising to pay them back.

hnews@herald.ie


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