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Tesco exec jailed after scamming firm out of €116k to fund holidays

A TESCO executive who defrauded the company of over €100,000 to cover the cost of his holidays has been given a four-year sentence with the final two and a half years suspended.

Paul Slevin (47) inflated the cost of a work trip to South Africa to pay for holidays for himself, family and friends to locations including Portugal, Dubai and the Rugby World Cup in France.

Slevin of Woodberry, Carpenterstown Road, Castleknock, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to pretending travel expenses had been incurred to the value of €116,470 for which Tesco were not liable on dates between June 2007 and March 2008.

He has no previous convictions and is now unemployed.

The court heard the married father-of-three is heavily involved in voluntary work in his community and set up a charitable organisation called Woodberry Woodpeckers, which fundraises for an orphanage and hospice in South Africa.

Judge Martin Nolan noted Slevin had betrayed his position of "great responsibility and trust" at Tesco. He said Slevin appeared to otherwise be an "exemplary man" but felt that justice demanded a jail sentence.

Judge Nolan imposed a four-year sentence but suspended the final two and a half years.

Detective Garda Martin Griffins told Sean Guerin, prosecuting, that he began an investigation after a complaint was made by Tesco Ireland of fraud involving Slevin.

Slevin was employed at Tesco as a non-food director from March 2007 and his role involved managing relationships with various suppliers. As part of his job he organised promotional foreign trips.

Det Garda Griffins told the court Slevin organised a trip to South Africa for 190 people and had fraudulently inflated the price of the trip so it could be used to pay for travel for himself, his family and friends.

He said after Slevin left the company in May 2008 documentation was found in his office with a breakdown of the price charged to Tesco for the trip as well as documentation relating to trips unrelated to Tesco taken in 2007 and 2008.

These seven trips included locations such as Portugal, Dubai and the Rugby World Cup in France. The total cost of the trip, including Slevin's inflated items valued at €116,470, was €1,496,500.

Slevin met with Det Garda Griffins by arrangement in July 2010 and told him: "I stupidly engaged in this activity for which I am heartily sorry."

Det Garda Griffins agreed with Caroline Biggs, defending, that Slevin had not covered his tracks after leaving the company. He agreed Slevin was significantly involved in charitable work.

Ms Biggs said Slevin had an extraordinary work ethic and had been working so hard at a stressful job during the time this offence was committed that his family feared he would require medical attention.