Gambling addict spared jail over theft

A 36-year-old employee with a serious gambling addiction has been given a suspended two-year sentence for stealing almost €50,000 from a Brown Thomas store in Galway.

Jennifer Keady, a single mother from 333 Boireann Beag, Roscam, Galway, crashed her car and took a drugs overdose before finally admitting her guilt to gardaí.

Keady first appeared before Galway Circuit Criminal Court in April where she pleaded guilty to the theft of €49,800 from Brown Thomas, Eglinton St, Galway, on dates between Mar 1 and Aug 27 last year.

Detective Sergeant Willie Byrne told the sentencing hearing yesterday that Keady started working in the cash office at the store in Oct 2011 and took over the office in 2012 when the young woman running it fell seriously ill.

She immediately began to misappropriate cash which was being delivered by a security company and issued false lodgement slips to the value of €49,800 to cover her tracks.

She claimed she had sent this money back to the security company but they had no record of it.

Staff at Brown Thomas called in the gardaí and they went to Keady’s home on Sep 21, 2012 where they found a pencil case containing €3,500 during the search.

Keady admitted to stealing €100 a day at first to feed her gambling addiction, but as her addiction spiralled she began taking more.

The most she took in a single day was €5,000, but since Apr 2012, she admitted taking between €6,000 and €7,000 a week.

She calculated she had stolen €52,000 but managed to repay €2,200 by the time gardaí closed in on her.

She knew the office was going to be audited on Aug 27 that year and she crashed her car on purpose, breaking a bone, so as to avoid having to come into work that day. She also took a drugs overdose the night before gardaí interviewed her.

Geri Silke, defending, said her client had had a serious gambling addiction but had turned her life around with the help of Gamblers Anonymous. A member of GA gave evidence in court to support that.

She said Keady had brought €1,000 to court and was very sorry for what she had done.

Judge Rory McCabe said this had been “an amateurish scheme of dishonesty” where Keady had been presented with a temptation she could not resist.

He directed the €3,500 found in the pencil case, along with the €1,000, be returned to the store and said justice would not be served by sending the accused to prison. He suspended the two-year sentence for five years.


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