A YOUTH worker who stole €40,000 from his employers has been spared jail because he "helped gardai investigate himself".
After James Brady (56) was caught, he repaid the full amount – despite the available evidence only supporting the theft of around €15,000.
Brady worked for Youthreach, a State-funded educational and training programme for early school-leavers that is run by the Dublin Vocational Education Committee.
The court heard the thefts involved him using the Youthreach account to pay for household groceries over six years.
Brady, of Abbey Park View, Dublin Road, Clane, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 17 sample counts of theft from Youthreach at Esker Hill, Lucan, between June 2004 and February 2011.
Defence counsel John Fitzgerald said it was an "exceptional and highly unusual case" because of the level of assistance Brady gave gardai.
Counsel said Brady "helped gardai investigate himself" and "created the case against himself".
He added that it would otherwise have been a long and difficult investigation which may never have reached the courts. Judge Mary Ellen Ring imposed a three-year suspended term and said that what sets Brady apart from similar offenders is the level of co-operation he showed which saved the authorities time and effort.
She noted: "Financial crisis has brought an increase in the number of cases coming before us of people with no previous convictions, unlikely to offend again, who had been considered pillars of the community, but who committed theft."
He was in effect leading a double life, a man of probity and value in his workplace, but also a thief".
The court heard Brady was a co-ordinator with Youthreach for 22 years.
In 2004 he began to use company accounts to pay for shopping in Superquinn, Centra and Musgraves. He also took money from petty cash.
He claimed that after the first theft it became a habit and that he intended to repay his employers.
He said he was under financial pressure as his wife was ill and his children were in college.
The thefts came to light after his employers received an anonymous tip-off.