A bank official targeted the accounts of elderly and vulnerable customers to steal over €60,000 which she used to fund her children’s third-level education and pay her mortgage.
Sheila McLoughlin, aged 59, from Cullane, Claremorris, Co Mayo, also stole christening money lodged in the accounts of two new-born babies before receiving a ‘package’ along with a pension on her ‘retirement’ from the bank in November 2012.
She repaid the money at her hearing yesterday at Galway Circuit Criminal Court and was given a suspended two-and-a-half year sentence. The mother of five had pleaded guilty before the court last November to 23 sample charges of theft from 14 client accounts at AIB, Vicar Street, Tuam, from July, 2010 to November, 2012.
Conor Fahy, prosecuting, told the sentence hearing yesterday McLoughlin received a gratuity and a pension when she retired from the bank in November 2012. Detective Tom Breen gave evidence the then bank manager made a complaint to gardaí in Tuam in April, 2013 regarding the misappropriation of money from customer accounts.
The bank carried out an audit and identified 14 affected accounts. McLoughlin had stolen varying sums of money from the accounts, ranging from €400 to €20,283.
Det Breen read out the names of 14 victims and the amounts which had been stolen from their accounts.
He said the thefts came to light when two widows noticed transactions on their accounts when they went to withdraw money to cover the expense of their husband’s funerals.
Another victim was a man with special needs, whose carer noticed discrepancies in his account.
He said the bank had reimbursed the victims.
He confirmed McLoughlin had co-operated fully in the ensuing garda investigation, but she did not explain what she did with the money.
She had been employed at the bank for 27 years and had since retired, he added.
Mr Fahy said McLoughlin’s husband had a 58-acre farm. Deirdre Browne, defending, said her client had brought €60,000 to court to repay AIB which had been collected from her extended family.
The judge said the money lodged in court in no way made up for the distress caused.
He imposed a two-and-a-half-year sentence on each of the 23 charges to run concurrently and suspended the sentences for five years.
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