Hotel cashier stole €76k and fled the country

A South African woman trusted to work as a cashier at the Midleton Park Hotel made off with €76,000, and after being questioned by gardaí, she fled to Australia and had to be extradited back to Ireland to face yesterday’s case against her.

Det Sgt Seán Leahy said Lorna Van Pletzen, aged 41, who was living at Ballinascartha, Midleton, Co Cork, with her husband and two children, realised her crimes had been detected when the hotel accountant emailed her querying lodgements she was supposed to have made to the hotel bank account.

She drove to Belfast, abandoned her car, and travelled as a foot passenger to Scotland and on to Milton Keynes, England.

Her work locker was searched by gardaí and unlodged cheques for the hotel were found. The PSNI made similar findings in Belfast when they searched her car.

Van Pletzen returned to Midleton and was interviewed by gardaí. She claimed in the first two interviews that the €2,400 and £230 were the only proceeds from the crime. By the third interview she made admissions in relation to stealing €76,000. About €20,000 in unlodged cheques was recovered.

Sinead Behan, defending, said there was no chance of the defendant being able to repay any of the €56,000 outstanding.

Det Sgt Leahy said that following Van Pletzen’s admissions, she fled the jurisdiction, this time going to Australia. She was extradited back, arrested, and has been in jail since her return on January 24.

She was before Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday for sentencing on 32 theft counts spanning April to June 2010.

Det Sgt Leahy said the defendant and her husband were earning €1,000 per week legitimately at the time she carried out the theft of €76,000 from Midleton Park Hotel.

Ms Behan said the defendant had no obvious trappings of wealth as a result of the crimes, adding that Van Pletzen has been hospitalised in the past for psychiatric treatment.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin remanded the accused in custody to Friday for sentencing.


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