Revenue official who pocketed €20,000 in motoring fines avoids jail
A revenue official who stole nearly €20,000 from the State over the course of a year by pocketing motoring fines has been given a suspended sentence.
John, also known as Anthony, Kelly (41) was an executive officer with the Revenue, responsible for collecting fines from motorists who hadn't paid Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT).
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard motorists caught by gardaí without VRT had their cars seized and would have to meet with Mr Kelly to pay a fine and get their car back. Mr Kelly would then keep the fine himself.
Counsel said Kelly had “over-extended himself” financially during the Celtic Tiger era and needed the money to repay loans and also to fund medical procedures to help himself and his wife conceive a child.
Judge Desmond Hogan said Kelly had “sullied his own good name” at work and in the community by succumbing to temptation, albeit for “very human reasons”.
He sentenced Kelly to six years in prison but suspended it in full for four years, noting that Kelly was unlikely to be of trouble again.
Judge Hogan said it was a serious offence which represented a severe breach of trust. He acknowledged that Kelly had been in financial difficulty at the time and had cooperated with gardaí and pleaded guilty, thus avoiding a lengthy trial.
Kelly has been repaying the money and brought the outstanding amount of €3,490 to court. Judge Hogan ordered that this final repayment be passed on to the Revenue Commissioners.
The court heard that motorists who don't have VRT are fined ten percent of the value of the car. Mr Kelly targeted high-end cars such as Porches and BMWs and stole a total of €19,350.
Kelly of Barons Hall Apartments, Balbriggan, Co Dublin pleaded guilty to three counts of theft from the Revenue Commissioners at New Customs House, Dublin. Two similar counts were taken into consideration. The offences took place between March 2005 and January 2006.
Detective Garda Stephen Niland told prosecuting counsel Garret Baker BL that motorists were stopped in the Dublin area and directed towards Kelly to get their cars back and pay the fine.
The owner of a BMW jeep paid over €7,000, the owner of a Porsche paid €5,650 and the owner of BMW 325 paid €2,300. The Revenue did not receive any of these fines.
A year after the jeep driver was fined, he was stopped again in Wexford by Revenue Officials for not having VRT. The driver told officials he had already been fined for the offence and Revenue began an investigation when it found no record of this.
Shortly afterwards Kelly paid over the original €7,000 fine in the form of two cheques and cash. The investigation then discovered the other missing fines.
Kelly was interviewed and denied stealing the money but identified his signature on several documents which were part of the case against him.
Defence counsel Michael Lynn SC said Kelly has now been fired from his position but was in line for a promotion before the thefts came to light. He said he now has another job.
Judge Hogan asked if his new employer knew about these offences and Kelly responded that he had put The Revenue down as a reference when he applied.