A Dublin credit union employee who stole up to €395,000 over a decade from the lender has been jailed for 18 months.
The court heard Susan Redmond (aged 50) had worked at Larkhill and District Credit Union in Dublin for 20 years and began taking out false loans on members' accounts in 2003. Redmond completed and signed loan applications and then issued cheques, which she cashed.
Detective Garda Dominic McGrath revealed that Redmond's colleagues noticed irregularities on accounts while she was on holidays and this launched an extensive investigation.
Redmond, of Thornville Drive, Kilbarrack, Dublin affirmed signed guilty pleas at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 10 sample charges of stealing from the credit union on dates from July 3, 2003, to April 26, 2013. Det. Gda McGrath said this sample represented 102 theft charges.
Judge Melanie Greally sentenced Redmond to three years imprisonment on each count, but suspended the final 18 months of each sentence on strict conditions. She ordered that all sentences will run concurrently with each other.
At an earlier sentence hearing, Det. Gda McGrath told Barry Ward BL, prosecuting, that the 40 account holders affected by Redmond's thefts were her friends and family and that they were all reimbursed by the credit union.
He said none of them made statements to gardaí. The detective said investigators were able to see money moving in and out of Redmond's bank account over the period, but it was not clear what she was spending on.
He said in some instances she was taking out more false loans to pay back previous false loans. The detective agreed with Justin McQuade BL, defending, that this was an “unsophisticated” fraud and that Redmond had nothing to show for it.
He further agreed Redmond had lost a job she took up after leaving the credit union because of publicity while the case was in the District Court.
Det. Gda McGrath said “luck had a part to play” as previous audits at the credit union had not been carried out on the accounts Redmond was using.
He told Judge Greally that he didn't believe any of the account holders affected had been complicit. He said investigators couldn't find any purchases like a car, holidays or expensive jewellery in Redmond's records.
He said the mother-of-one told gardaí she couldn't identify one sizeable purchase she ever made and that the money went on day-to-day things.
Redmond's sister, Collette Clarke, told Mr McQuade that their family was close-knit and that she saw “no huge warning signs”.
Ms Clarke said she noticed Redmond buying clothes and spending on hair and make-up, but thought the expenses were going on credit cards or coming out of a loan.
This witness told Judge Greally that her credit union account was among those affected. She said Redmond had issued a false loan of €20,000 without her knowledge on this account just before the fraud came to light.
Michael Dempsey, a clinical psychologist, told Mr McQuade that Redmond was a vulnerable woman who “fit the criteria for compulsive buying disorder” and was “severely depressed”.
He added that her son was very dependent on her and that she had been in difficult romantic relationships.
Mr McQuade told Judge Greally that Redmond had €20,000 in court as a token of remorse. He said that the credit union was insured against theft and that Liberty Insurance was pursuing civil proceedings against his client.
Judge Greally said the case was aggravated by the number of thefts, the “extremely lengthy” period of offending, the breach of trust and the fact that Redmond was issuing loans in the name of friends and family who were theoretically liable to repay them.
She said the mitigating factors were Redmond's pleas of guilty, her extensive co-operation, her personal circumstances, her mental health history, her son being heavily dependent on her, her offering €20,000 towards the loss and that she will be pursued in civil proceedings.