A Tesco executive who defrauded the company of more than €100,000 to cover the cost of his holidays has been given a four year sentence with the final two-and-a-half years suspended.
Paul Slevin (aged 47) inflated the cost of a work trip to South Africa to pay for holidays for himself, family and friends to locations including Portugal, Dubai and the Rugby World Cup in France.
Slevin of Woodberry, Carpenterstown Road, Castleknock pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to pretending travel expenses had been incurred to the value of €116,470, for which Tesco were not liable, on dates between June 2007 and March 2008.
He has no previous convictions and is now unemployed.
The court heard the married father-of-three is heavily involved in voluntary work in his community and set up a charitable organisation called “Woodberry Woodpeckers” which fund raises for an orphanage and hospice in South Africa.
Judge Martin Nolan noted Slevin had betrayed his position of “great responsibility and trust” at Tesco. He said Slevin appeared to otherwise be an “exemplary man” but felt that justice demanded a prison sentence.
Judge Nolan imposed a four-year sentence but suspended the final two and a half years.
Detective Garda Martin Griffins told Sean Guerin BL, prosecuting, that he began an investigation after a complaint was made by Tesco Ireland of fraud involving Slevin.
Slevin was employed at Tesco as a scale non-food director from March 2007 and his role involved managing relationships with various suppliers. As part of his job he organised promotional foreign trips.
Det Gda Griffins told the court Slevin organised a trip to South Africa for 190 people and had fraudulently inflated the price of the trip so it could be used to pay for travel for himself, his family and friends.
He said after Slevin left the company in May 2008 documentation was found in his office with a breakdown of the price charged to Tesco for the trip as well as documentation relating to trips unrelated to Tesco taken in 2007 and 2008.
These seven trips included locations such as Portugal, Dubai and the Rugby World Cup in France.
The total cost of the trip, including Slevin’s inflated items valued at €116,470, was €1,496,500.
Slevin met with Det Gda Griffins by arrangement in July 2010 and told him: “I stupidly engaged in this activity for which I am heartily sorry.”
Det Gda Griffins agreed with Caroline Biggs SC, defending, that Slevin had not covered his tracks after leaving the company. He agreed Slevin was significantly involved in charitable work.
Ms Biggs said Slevin had an extraordinary work ethic and had been working so hard at a stressful job during the time this offence was committed that his family feared he would require medical attention.
She said Slevin was “genuinely deeply appalled at what he had done.”
Counsel said he had a number of jobs since leaving Tesco, including working in Saudi Arabia but had returned home due to loneliness, and was now unemployed.
She said he was a different person today and his family has been devastated by the offence.
Ms Biggs handed in numerous letters of reference to the court, outlined his charitable and voluntary work and asked Judge Nolan to consider a non-custodial sentence as Slevin was a first-time offender.
She said there was money available to the court to reimburse the company which he had borrowed from a friend on the basis it would be repaid from his pension.
She said he had previously offered to repay the money but this had been rejected by the company.