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Caretaker on trial accused of stealing €66 of fruit from Dublin school

CourtsBy Sunday World
Alleged theft of bags of fruit from a school
Alleged theft of bags of fruit from a school

A SCHOOL caretaker has gone on trial at Dublin District Court accused of stealing bags of fruit which was meant to be given to pupils as part of a healthy food initiative.

Thomas Byrne, 55, of Howth Road, Raheny, Dublin has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of theft of bags of bananas, apples oranges worth about €66 from Scoil Fhursa in Kilmore, in Dublin 5 between February 24th and March 7th in 2014 when he was employed as a caretaker.

The principal Martin Stynes told Judge Ann Ryan that the HSE and Dublin City Council had run a healthy eating programme for schools. He said Scoil Fhursa is in an area designated as socially disadvantaged and the aim of the scheme was for the pupils to try different foods.

Mr Stynes said that there were irregularities and the school noticed inconsistencies in the supply of fruits and the availability of it to the children. He asked the secretary to keep an eye on the records and count how much fruit was supplied to the school.

On February 24th it was expected there would be 10 bags of oranges but only four were counted; on February 26th, there was supposed to be six bags of bananas but four were counted; on the following day it was expected that there would be six bags of apples among the delivery but there was none; on February 28th the school expected that there would be two bags of apples in the consignment but no bags of apples were present.

The court heard that on March 3rd , it was expected that there would be 10 bags of oranges among the delivery but there were two; on the following day there were three bags of apples when there was supposed to be six.

On March 5th there were three bags of bananas when there should have been six and on March 7th it was expected there would be be two bags of apples but only one was counted.

Mr Stynes said “the teachers were asking why we have no bananas today or not enough oranges".

He claimed the defendant told him “some days we get more, some days we get less you cannot depend on the delivery.”

Mr Stynes said “given that this person was trusted in his area of work I took him at his word”.

School secretary Catherine Fowler confirmed she counted the shortfall of fruit.

John Mooney, the owner of Glanmore Foods said the fruit was delivered to schools four days a week and free of charge. He confirmed the amount of food which was on the order for Scoil Fhursa. The trial resumes in March.