Suspended sentence for €49k theft

A Longford resident has been given a four year suspended sentence for stealing over €49, 000 from his former employer in Swords, County Dublin.

Stephen Sears (aged 54) with an address at Weavers Hall, Market Square, Longford pleaded guilty to defrauding €49, 811 from Oregon Ltd between January 07 and November 11, 2005.

Judge Tony Hunt called it "a sad crime motivated by alcohol and family problems." He ordered Sears to compensate Oregon by using the proceeds of the sale of his family house of which he is to receive one third following his separation from his wife.

Garda Paul Keane told prosecuting counsel, Mr Colm O Briain BL in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, that staff of Oregon Ltd could buy canteen food on credit using a card validating system.

Purchases were debited at the till and a "master card" took the balance out and it was lodged into the company bank account. Sears was one of two people who had card access to this machine.

Garda Keane said an auditor discovered that there was a shortfall in money going into the bank from the machine 67 times between January and November 2005.

He told Mr O'Briain that the total shortfall of €49,811 was accumulated through amounts of "a few hundred to a thousand euro" going missing.

Garda Keane said Sears in a voluntary interview with gardaí admitted he took the money from the card validator but had no idea of the amount he had stolen, saying: "I wish you caught me sooner."

Garda Keane agreed with defence counsel, Mr Paul Carroll BL, that Sears had been working with the company for two years prior to the offence without any difficulties and "put up his hands at the first available opportunity".

He also agreed that Sears , who has ongoing health problems, had split up with his wife and was under financial strain and drinking heavily.

Garda Keane agreed that although Sears had moved out of his former family home at Bracken Drive, Portmarnock and into a nearby apartment at the time, he still paid the mortgage bills on top of his rent despite the marriage break-up because he wanted to be close to his two daughters.

Mr Carroll told Judge Hunt that his client now lives in "cheap accommodation in Longford" after briefly moving back in with his wife following a heart attack in 2006.


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