Mother of seven spent €10,000 from unknown donor

A debt ridden mother-of-seven who stole €9,000 from her employer has "frittered away" €10,000 sent to her by an anonymous donor after reading newspapers reports of her court case.

Joan Sloan (aged 40), of Sheephill Avenue, Corduff had stolen the money in a series of internet banking transactions after failing to receive maintenance payments.

The case had been adjourned at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to allow Sloan to make full restitution with her employer, the Bond Project, but defence counsel Ms Lana Fitzsimons BL told Judge Katherine Delahunt today that her client had only repaid €1,450 to date.

She said that Sloan had received €10,000 following publication of the sentence hearing last October and she had been told to dispose of that as she wished.

She used €2,000 to pay off a loan for her son and after clearing some utility bills, she used the rest of the money towards Christmas laving only €1,000 left which she offered along with €450 towards restitution.

Ms Fitzsimons said Sloan was expecting over €8,000 that was due to her in carer’s allowance for one of her children who had been diagnosed as autistic and had spent the donation in anticipation of these funds coming through before her sentence date.

Judge Delahunt said her sympathy went to the person who donated the €10,000 to Sloan who she said "then just frittered it away". She said she was now expected to accept money "that is due for the care of a child", as going towards restitution for her employer.

Ms Fitzsimons said that Sloan suffered from depressions which was linked to her overspending difficulties but she was no longer on medication. She said Sloan wished to thank the donor for the generosity.

Judge Delahunt agreed to adjourn the case on condition that Sloan has the funds in court on the next date.

Sloan pleaded guilty to 15 counts of theft of amounts ranging from €140 to €1,500 from Blanchardstown Offenders for New Directions, Bond Project, Coolmine Industrial Estate on dates between November 25, 2004 and February 16, 2005. She had no previous convictions.

Sergeant John Hyland told Mr Michael Bowman BL, prosecuting, that Mr Pat Doyle, manager of the Bond Project, reported to gardai that there had been several unauthorised internet banking transactions of funds out of the Bond Project bank account.

Sgt Hyland said Sloan who was responsible for the project’s internet banking facilities was nominated as a suspect. When gardai arrived at her home she told them: "Yeah, I know what this is about."

Sloan voluntarily gave gardai a copy of her bank statements and made substantial admissions. She told gardai she regretted her actions but was "up to her eyes in debt" and was relying on fortnightly maintenance payments from her ex-husband but had only received four payments that year.

She said she used the money to buy Christmas items for the children.

Sgt Hyland agreed with Ms Fitzsimons that Sloan told gardai she felt "desperate" and told them her employer was very good to her.

Ms Fitzsimons said that Sloan’s five eldest children were the product of a marriage which ended in 1996 and were the subject of a maintenance order. She also had two younger children but was not in a relationship with their fathers.

She said Sloan began working with the Bond Project in April 2003 and it was during this time that she got into severe debt. Sloan got a credit card and brought the two youngest children on their first holiday.

Ms Fitzsimons said that Sloan was facing eviction from her home by November 2004 and this was when she began to take the money to meet arrears payments.

She said Sloan viewed the money she had taken as "in some sense a short term loan" and always meant to repay her employer but was unable to do so as she spiralled further in debt.

She said Sloan was "hugely remorseful" and despite suffering with a panic disorder, was attending Focus Ireland to get her financial affairs back in order.

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