A five-year suspended jail term was imposed yesterday on the bookkeeper for a haulage firm in Macroom, Co Cork, who stole over €200,000 from her employers over a 14-year period.
Margaret McCarthy Creedon of Sallygardens, Macroom, was before the probation service for a report to include her suitability for community service.
Judge Gerard O’Brien noted that while she was suitable, a community service order would not meet the seriousness of the case.
He said the fact she stole €70,000 in the four-year period of 2009 to 2013 when the company was struggling to survive the recession was particularly upsetting for her former employer.
Macroom Haulage Ltd was the victim of the prolonged thefts. McCarthy Creedon, aged 51, pleaded guilty to six sample counts of theft on a 50-count indictment.
Detective Sgt Derek Mulcahy said at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that she stole €205,686 and that all of this had been repaid. She worked for the company for 22 years from 1992 until 2014 as a bookkeeper and financial manager.
Judge O’Brien said at the sentencing hearing yesterday: “Understandably, the family are extremely put out, upset, and angry. They trusted her. Because she was a family friend they are all the more put out.
“Obviously, an aggravating factor is that it went on for such a long period. The victim impact statement was clear, the situation was very much worsened by the fact that the company was going through an extremely rough period through the recession and €70,000 was taken from 2009 to 2013.”
Mitigating factors included the plea of guilty. Judge O’Brien also believed that the apology and remorse were genuine.
Paddy Murphy, director of the firm, said in a victim impact statement: “It is difficult to express the degree of hurt and betrayal that we feel. Margaret was a personal friend of our family. We attended her family occasions, birthdays, and she attended ours. We received a letter of apology and a refund of all the money taken from the company. Two of our sons work in the company as well. It wasn’t just money that was stolen. We managed to save the company but we are shaken, we are angry, we are upset, we are cross, we are suffering.”
Donal O’Sullivan, defence barrister said: “There is a huge amount of shame she has to bear due to what she has done. She accepts that the money is one thing but the breach of trust is a very important thing here. It is almost like betrayal.”
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