By Brion Hoban & Stephen Bourke
A mother-of-two who stole over €23,000 from her former employer by producing faked bank lodgement slips has received a fully suspended sentence.
Maura Keogh (60) was the accounts manager of a machinery firm when she stole the money while lodging cash and cheques.
Keogh of Willowbrook Lawns, Celbridge, Co Kildare, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 18 sample charges of theft and three counts of false accounting at CS Construction Spares Ltd, Clondalkin, on dates between December 31, 2015 and September 6, 2016.
Passing sentence, Judge Melanie Greally said that during a period where the accused woman was going through some financial pressures owing to her being the sole earner of the household, she “succumbed to the temptation” to steal from her employer.
“This episode of offending appears to have been a very serious aberration from an otherwise law-abiding life,” Judge Greally said.
The judge said Keogh has expressed considerable remorse and has “made good” the amount of money stolen from her employer.
She said the accused has no previous convictions and has been assessed as being at a low risk of reoffending.
Judge Greally sentenced Keogh to two-and-a-half years imprisonment, but suspended the sentence in its entirety on strict conditions.
At a previous sentencing hearing, Garda Linda Ryan told Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, that Keogh was the accounts’ manager at the Clondalkin machinery firm until the theft was uncovered.
Gda Ryan said Keogh had volunteered to lodge cash and cheques from the machinery distributor’s trade counter for several months, saying she was “going to the bank anyway”.
When Keogh went on holiday, another colleague discovered a discrepancy between the amount on record and the amount actually lodged on August 26, 2016.
Cheques worth €1,365 had been lodged, but €340.50 in cash had not.
When her employers confronted Keogh at a meeting on September 16, 2016, she admitted what she had done and she was dismissed four days later.
The total amount she pleaded guilty to stealing was €23,366.
In his victim impact statement, which was read before the court, CS Construction Spares’s owner Joseph O’Reilly said he preferred a management style which afforded his senior staff “almost complete autonomy” in the day-to-day running of the firm.
Mr O’Reilly said Keogh had been part of a team to which significant responsibilities had been delegated.
He said there was a “ripple effect” which hurt morale among staff across his group of businesses.
He said in the end he decided he had to close his Dublin premises and move the CS Construction Spares business to his head office in Dunleer, Co Louth. Several of Keogh’s colleagues also lost their jobs as a result of the restructuring.
David Fleming BL, defending, said his client’s husband had been seriously ill since the late 1990’s, leaving her the sole breadwinner for her family and his full-time carer.
Counsel said she was “under serious financial pressure” when she took the money “desperately trying to keep her head above water”.
He said the position his client was in allowed her the opportunity to make this “mistake.”
“This isn’t the case where Ms Keogh took the money to fund a lifestyle which she couldn’t afford. She hated what she was doing and had always intended to pay it back,” he said. “But every time she did it the hole was getting deeper.”
Counsel said his client is the mother of two adult children, one a professional athlete, the other working in England.