A woman who hired a bouncy castle and a minibus for her son’s 21st birthday through Waterford Vocational Education Committee (VEC) has had her conviction upheld by the Court of Appeal.
Catherine Callanan, aged 51, of Ballinroad, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, pleaded not guilty to two counts of deception relating to the hire of a bouncy castle and services of a minibus driver on two dates in September and October 2012.
She was found guilty by a jury at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court and was given a wholly suspended four-month sentence by Judge Melanie Greally on July 23, 2015. Callanan lost an appeal against her conviction yesterday with the Court of Appeal holding that both counts were properly left to the jury to consider.
Giving judgement in the three-judge court, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said Callanan told gardaí she was conscious that bouncy castles were in short supply and was anxious to use “the leverage” of the Waterford VEC, a public body for whom she worked, to ensure the bouncy castle would be available.
The fact that the bouncy castle was ordered, delivered, and erected close to her home, and was used by her for a private purpose, was not in dispute, the judge said.
Mr Justice Mahon said using “the leverage” of the VEC was “in itself an act of dishonesty on the basis of which, and on her own admission, she ensured the delivery of the bouncy castle on the date in question”.
Had the deception ceased at that point and had she paid for it in cash, no offence could possibly have been committed because of the absence of an intention to make a gain at the cost of another, the judge said.
The second offence related to the use of a minibus to transport Callanan’s son and a group of his friends from Dungarvan to Kart World in Co Cork on October 27, 2012. Callanan’s instructions were that the cost of the transport be invoiced to the VEC. The minibus was owned by the VEC and its driver, Peter Hayes, knew Callanan from her involvement in the VEC.
Mr Hayes said he had always assumed the trip had been authorised by the VEC.
Mr Justice Mahon said the relevant question was whether or not Callanan intended, in arranging for the service, that it be paid by the VEC without reimbursement from her.
The jury heard Callanan only reimbursed the VEC after the matter had been raised.
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