By Brion Hoban
A father-of-two who stole over €26,000 from his employer Lidl to feed a gambling addiction has received a fully suspended sentence.
Marcin Konar (43) walked into a garda station and said he wished to confess to the crime after he used the stolen money for gambling.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that he was not under the suspicion of his employer when he confessed to the crime.
Konar, with an address at Mill Park, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty to the theft of €26,600 at Lidl, Thomas Street, Dublin City centre, on dates between February 1, 2018 and May 11, 2018.
Passing sentence today, Judge Pauline Codd said Konar was the store manager of Lidl on Thomas Street when he began taking money from the store’s safe.
Judge Codd said an “unusual feature” of the offending is that the accused man walked into a garda station and said he wished to confess to this crime.
The judge said Konar had an addiction to online gambling on his phone in particular and also in betting shops.
She said he felt he was borrowing the money in order to gamble it and seems to have thought at some point he would pay it back, but this never materialised.
She said that as the CCTV obtained by gardaí did not really show the offending, it is accepted the admission was “significant”.
She noted that Konar was not on the radar of his employer or under suspicion when he confessed.
Judge Codd said the accused was the store manager and that was a position of trust which he breached. She said by handing himself in and by expressing remorse, he acknowledged that.
She said the accused has lived in this country for 16 years and has a good work record. She noted he has lost his family as a result of these and other matters, but he continues to pay maintenance for his two children.
The judge said the accused has undergone treatment in respect of his gambling addiction and has offered to pay the money back. She said he has been assessed as being at a low risk of reoffending.
Judge Codd sentenced Konar to two years imprisonment, but suspended the sentence in its entirety for four years on strict conditions, including that he hand over a lump sum of €3,700 which he had in court and to repay a minimum of €500 a month to Lidl.
After passing sentence, Judge Codd said she trusted gardaí will make enquires with the bookmakers regarding the money that came in from the account and whether there should have been a “red flag” raised by the bookmakers.
She said she cannot direct the gardaí, but she recommended it.
Prior to sentencing, the judge had asked the prosecuting garda if any investigations had been made into the bookmakers.
The garda confirmed to the court that there had been no such investigation.
Judge Codd said this was not the first time people with otherwise good records fall into gambling and the money goes to bookmakers.
She said if this is an online gambling account, then it has to belong to one bookmaker and they “walked into the sunset” with the proceeds of a criminal offence.
Judge Codd said this was not the first time when people have stolen a large amount of money that could not be accounted for and that she understood bookmakers have an obligation to look into that.
She said it was “quite extraordinary” the bookmakers end up paying nothing back.