A personal assistant who stole more than €1m from her employers over a 14-year period has been jailed for four years.
Siobhan Maguire (aged 47) stole the money by fraudulently lodging her employers cheques to her personal bank account. Her lawyers told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that she “dissipated” the money over the years paying her mortgage, going on holidays and supporting her children.
Maguire, of The Brambles, Skerries, Dublin pleaded guilty to 32 sample theft and fraud charges related to lodgement of 660 cheques to her bank account on dates between 2001 and 2015.
She had been sent forward to the Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing on the offences after entering signed guilty pleas in the District Court. Maguire has no previous convictions.
The total theft involved amounted to €1,187,616. Maguire's former employers have been partially reimbursed by banks and did not wish to make victim impact statements. The total outstanding loss is now approximately €325,000.
Judge Patricia Ryan noted testimonials and letters handed in from family and friends. She said she was taking into account the letters from Maguire's children who were of a young age and not financially independent.
She said the aggravating circumstances of the case included the serious nature of the charge, the amount of money involved, the long period over which the offences were committed and the breach of trust. She noted the prosecuting garda was of the view Maguire would not re-offend.
Judge Ryan noted in mitigation that Maguire had entered an early guilty plea which was of value to the State, that she had made full admissions, had no previous convictions and had displayed remorse which the prosecution accepted was genuine.
Judge Ryan imposed four years imprisonment on each count to run concurrently.
Garda Stephen Faulkner told Maurice Coffey BL, prosecuting, that Maguire worked as a shared secretary and personal assistant to two professional people at offices in Church Street, Dublin and began employment there in May 2001.
He said part of her role, over the 14 years of her employment, was to lodge cheques into the business accounts of the two men. He said that during this time she also lodged 660 of these cheques, which she had falsely endorsed on the back, to her own personal account.
Gda Faulkner said the amounts on the fraudulently lodged cheques ranged from upper limits of €5,000 to a lower limit of several hundred euro. The money had been subsequently taken from her account in cash withdrawals and gardaí were unable to trace it.
He said that the fraud came to light in January 2015 after a bank employee became suspicious of a number of cheques Maguire lodged to her own account through the self service machines at Bank of Ireland in Smithfield.
Maguire's bank account was investigated and a vast amount of cheque lodgements uncovered. She was suspended from her job and subsequently resigned. A garda investigation began and she made full admissions to all the offences.
Gda Faulkner agreed with Conor Devally SC, defending, that Maguire had co-operated fully with the investigation and expressed genuine remorse. He agreed that the injured parties did not wish for Maguire to sell her family home to make up the shortfall in what they had lost.
Mr Devally said Maguire, who was separated from the father of her children, had at the time been paying the mortgage on their jointly owned home by herself and supporting her two children.
He said instead of confronting her former partner about his obligations she took this “stop gap measure” and it became part of her life.
He said Maguire had convinced herself at that time that it was something she could make up for.
Mr Devally said that discovery of the offences had come as a horrible shock but there was also relief that her double life had been brought to an end. He said she was dogged by mortification and shame at the offences. He handed in a number of testimonials and letters from Maguire's family.
After hearing evidence last week Judge Ryan had adjourned the case to allow further details of Maguire's financial details be brought before the court.
Oisin Clarke BL, defending, told Judge Ryan today the family home had gone into arrears after Maguire was let go from her job but that her ex-partner is now paying for the house. He said that Maguire was currently on social welfare.