Accountant gets suspended term for stealing over €160,000 from clients

A chartered accountant who admitted stealing money from clients and engaging in an accountancy practice known as teeming and lading was given a four-year suspended jail sentence yesterday for the theft of €162,000.

James Hackett, aged 63, of 22 Ashington, Brooklodge, Glanmire, Co Cork, was given the suspended term at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Det Garda Mary Skehan said teeming and lading involved taking cheques from clients for their payment of tax and using them for the benefit of himself and other clients.

Judge Patrick J Moran told the court he was not familiar with the term teeming and lading but understood, from the sentencing point of view, that it effectively meant robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Dermot Sheehan BL, defence barrister, said that because some of the monies were put into the accounts of other clients, the actual losses did not total €162,000, but that injured parties were out of pocket to the total of over €53,000.

By appealing to family and a large group of friends, Hackett had been able to gather that compensation in full, the balance to be lodged with his solicitor within days for payment of the injured parties, said Mr Sheehan.

Mr Sheehan said Hackett resorted to these offences because he had incurred financial difficulties.

He added that Hackett’s plea of guilty was a significant matter, which meant that the State did not have to prove the case in what would have been a complex trial.

The judge took this into consideration in imposing a four-year suspended sentence. He also said there has been a significant breach of trust by a professional man entrusted to make payments to Revenue on behalf of his clients.

Hackett was not struck off as a chartered accountant but has ceased to be a member and is effectively unemployed, said Mr Sheehan.

The charges related to thefts of bank drafts owned by several different people at locations including Kinsale, Waterfall, Ballinlough, and Douglas in Cork.

The amounts referred to in the charges range from €15,000 to over €32,000.

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