It was impossible to quantify exactly how much Tara Egan had stolen from Doyle’s Topshop Petrol Station on Muckross Rd in the period 2011 to 2014, Tralee Circuit Criminal Court was told yesterday.
She may only have won €800 for her trouble.
Sample charges had been brought after a painstaking Garda investigation outlined by Killarney-based Detective Garda Bill Stack.
Ms Egan, aged 28, of Arbutus Grove, Killarney, pleaded guilty to 17 sample counts of theft in that she stole National Lottery Lotto 5-4-3-2-1 tickets, the property of Billy Doyle, at Doyle’s Topshop, Muckross Rd, Killarney, between August 20, 2011 and August 2014.
It was “impossible to quantify” how often Ms Egan had played the Lotto on the shop’s machine, and it was also impossible to quantify how much she had won, Det Garda Stack said.
The sales value of the used tickets found by her former partner in clearing out her bedroom amounted to €19,492 — and only €800 of winnings could be determined.
The owner, Billy Doyle, said he had to close his shop.
He was suffering health problems and the matter was further complicated in that Ms Egan had for quite a time been in a serious relationship with Peter Doyle, the owner’s son, the Circuit Criminal Court was told yesterday.
Only when that relationship broke up, and Peter Doyle was cleaning out the couple’s house, were the piles of used Lotto tickets with a value of just under €20,000 discovered and the theft uncovered.
Ms Egan began her employment in 2007 and worked in the shop for eight years.
A relationship developed between herself and Peter Doyle.
In 2014 difficulties arose and she was on sick leave. She ceased employment there in September 2014.
“In the course of vacating their accommodation, Peter Doyle discovered a considerable amount of used lotto tickets spanning the period 2011 to 2014,” said Judge Thomas E O’Donnell.
She had been taking the tickets and not paying for them and attempts to quantify the exact amount had not been possible, but “the conservative estimate” was in excess of €19,000.
Billy Doyle had told the court in a victim impact statement that he had to close his shop in 2015 and his health was affected, the more so as Tara Egan was a trusted employee and was considered one of the family.
Ms Egan, now a mother of three, was unemployed, as was her husband, and there was no realistic prospect of compensation being paid, the judge said.
Barrister for Ms Egan, Katie O’Connell said her client was deeply remorseful and that her gambling addiction issue had been addressed. She had accepted her responsibility and apologised to Mr Doyle.
A probation report by probation officer Nora Brassil found Ms Egan carried a low risk of re-offending.
The appropriate tariff was “two years and five months,” Judge O’Donnell said.
He was prepared to suspend the sentence for a period of two years and five months.