John, also known as Con Murphy, 66, received the non-custodial sentence despite Judge Patrick McCartan expressing concerns that Murphy is involved in similar behaviour with a new charity he set up called the Make it Happen Foundation.
Judge McCartan suspended a three-year sentence yesterday after hearing Murphy’s family had raised the full amount to compensate for the theft.
He also took into account Murphy’s age and poor health and said the sentence recognises “the breach of trust and goodwill.”
The Children to Lapland Appeal has since gone into liquidation so the money will be split between Crumlin Children’s Hospital and Barretstown camp for children, “a charity which is dear to my heart and close to where I reside”, the judge said.
Murphy, of Church Road, Killiney, Dublin was convicted at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after a two-day trial and 42 minutes of jury deliberation.
The charity was founded by Murphy in 1987. It raised money from donations to bring terminally ill children on trips to see Santa Claus in Lapland.
Murphy also operated United Travel, a travel agent based in Stillorgan before it went out of business in 2012.
Murphy had pleaded not guilty to four counts of theft between June and July 2010 in the Dublin area totalling €18,643.