Woman who stole €132k from employer avoids jail for second time

CourtsBy Sunday World
Amy McAuley
Amy McAuley

A “very talented” young woman who stole €132,000 from a sugar distribution firm has been spared jail a second time, despite an appeal by prosecutors.

Amy McAuley (26), with a last address at Ledwidge Hall, Slane, Co Meath, had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to stealing €132,355 from Nordzucker Ireland Ltd, Arena House, Sandyford Industrial Estate, Dublin, on three dates between July 23, 2013 and February 26, 2014.

She was given a wholly suspended two year sentence by Judge Patrick McCartan on November 30, 2015 on condition she stay out of trouble and make full restitution within 10 years.

The Court of Appeal found no error in McAuley's sentence today despite an appeal by prosecutors for a review of her sentence on grounds that it was “unduly lenient”.

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Derek Cooney BL, submitted that the suspended sentence imposed on McAuley did not adequately deal with the offence, the ingenuity involved and the fact that it was done to repay a €90,000 theft from a previous company – for which there was no prosecution and which has been fully repaid.

Giving judgement, Mr Justice John Edwards said McAuley had obtained a short-term job with Nordzucker as a credit controller while another employee was on maternity leave.

She contacted emloyees at another firm to say bank account details for the purpose of processing invoices had been changed. Three transactions totalling €132,000 were made to the updated bank account details, Mr Justice Edwards said.

McAuley had asked her father to contact the CEO of Nordzucker to inform him of what she had done. The CEO in turn contacted the gardaí, who arrested and detained her, during which she made full admissions, the judge said.

Mr Justice Edwards said the court was not satisfied that the circumstances of the case disclosed any error resulting in a clear divergence from the norm.

The offence certainly involved a significant breach of trust and although she had no recorded previous convictions it was not the only occasion she had misappropriated funds from an employer, the judge said.

She was relatively young at the time, had “self-reported” her crimes through her father, pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, was remorseful, ashamed and had made partial restitution with a view to making full restitution later.

The Circuit Court judge had described her as a “very talented young individual leaving aside her misjudgments” and said he was impressed by testimonials on her behalf.

The Court of Appeal heard that she was an “accomplished musician”.

Mr Justice Edwards, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, said the sentence was not unduly lenient and accordingly, the DPP's application for a review was refused.

The court nevertheless of its own motion modified provisions for the repayment of sums owed to the injured party so that 30 per cent of the monies owed should be paid within five years, a further 30 per cent within seven-and-a-half years and the balance on or before the 10-year-period originally set by the Circuit Court.

A sum of €30,000 had been paid over in restitution, the court heard, with an outstanding balance of €102,000.

McAuley, who was represented by Kathleen Leader BL, was required to enter into a good behaviour bond for the suspended period and to agree to the repayment schedule.

She acknowledged herself so bound.

by Ruaidhrí Giblin