A teacher who deceived three special needs assistants (SNAs) in her school out of just over €2,000 has been spared a custodial sentence and a criminal conviction.
Dublin District Court heard Kim Murrin "spiralled out of control", leading to a €40,000 gambling debt at the time.
Murrin, 30, of Ballymcgowan, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, pleaded guilty to deception to gain sums totalling €2,032 and theft charges.
A probation report was furnished to the court.
Following a plea of mitigation, Judge Bryan Smyth applied the Probation of Offenders Act, sparing her a court conviction and a possible sentence.
Three charges related to deceiving SNAs, who transferred money electronically via the Revolut service for goods never received.
It happened at a national school where Murrin worked with them in north Dublin in October and September last year.
She also admitted to stealing €15 worth of fuel from a service station in Dublin around the same time.
Judge Smyth noted she had repaid the victims.
Pleading for leniency, her solicitor told Judge Smyth that Murrin had endured significant hardship.
The court heard there had been three close family bereavements in recent years.
Furthermore, in 2019, two convicted killers, who were on day release, broke into her home. The court heard it lasted 10 minutes but was a "very frightening incident".
She became addicted to gambling, built up a €40,000 debt, and had not been paid for three months.
The court heard she suffered from depression but has sought help for her gambling problem and was "concerned at how quickly her life spiralled out of control".
The defence pleaded with the court to defer the case and to consider leaving her without a conviction. She had left work, and the case was the subject of press coverage, but she hoped to get back to teaching.
If convicted, she would never work as a teacher again, her lawyer submitted.
The court heard Murrin had been arrested at school and was in custody for a time, which was a traumatic experience.
Judge Smyth indicated he would apply the Probation Act.
However, the lawyer asked him to consider finding the facts proven and dismiss the charges instead. The defence said section 1.1 of the act leaves a record of the case on the Garda Pulse system and could stop people travelling.
Murrin would make a charitable donation on top of the compensation already paid.
The court heard she wanted no stain on her record to teach again, the lawyer said, conceding, "what I'm asking is a big ask".
"I'm afraid that is the best I'm going to do," the judge replied, as he refused to change his order. "I appreciate the circumstances in which these matters arose, there was certainly a breach of trust in relation to her colleagues."
He fixed recognisances in the event of an appeal.