guilty plea  | 

Bank worker who robbed €270k from EBS and spent it on 'spoiling' her child jailed

Maeve Diamond leaving Sligo Circuit Court as she commences a 11 month prison sentence.

Maeve Diamond leaving Sligo Circuit Court as she commences a 11 month prison sentence.

Eugene Masterson and Ciara Galvin

A 46-year-old woman who stole over €270,000 from bank accounts while working as a financial advisor with EBS in Sligo town has been jailed.

Maeve Diamond, who claimed she spent the money on spoiling her children, was sentenced by Sligo Circuit Court to one year and nine months in jail with the final 10 months suspended.

That means Diamond must spend 14 months in prison.

Diamond, with an address at Main Street, Ballintogher appeared before Sligo Circuit Criminal Court where she admitted stealing €274, 771 from 10 bank accounts at EBS on Grattan Street while employed there.

The thefts took place on dates between 2011 and 2016.

Maeve Diamond leaving Sligo Circuit Court as she commences a 11 month prison sentence.

Maeve Diamond leaving Sligo Circuit Court as she commences a 11 month prison sentence.

She pleaded guilty to 10 counts of theft and a further 10 counts of making a false instrument to forge a signature on withdrawal slips from the accounts.

The court was asked to take a further 63 counts into consideration.

The defendant has not paid any of the money back to the EBS who has repaid and compensated the victims.

“I’d love to tell you what I spent it on, it was just on life, and the kids," mother-of-three Diamond told gardaí in relation to the theft of over €270,000 from bank accounts at EBS over a five-year period.

Diamond was sentenced for charges relating to the theft of €274,771 and told gardaí she could not account for what exactly she had spent the stolen money on.

Sligo Circuit Criminal Court heard Diamond was ‘flabbergasted’ when gardaí told her the amount of money stolen, especially saying she had nothing to show for it.

In court, she told Judge Francis Comerford she and her husband drove old cars, did not go on fancy holidays and she probably spent money on spoiling her children.

Mr Desmond Dockery, SC told the court his client detailed how her children had “every activity going” and she was determined to facilitate hobbies and activities which included music lessons, classical singing lessons, Irish dancing and swimming lessons.

Expenses were incurred with attending Feis competition and doctor and consultant bills for herself.

She said did eat out for lunch but not every day but other than that she could not account for what she spend the money on.

In her evidence, Diamond said she would make cash withdrawals between €2,000 and €3,000 which were not for any set purpose.

“It was primarily to spoil the children. They got the best of everything. What I thought they needed, birthdays, Christmas, go to expensive hobbies,” she said.

Asked by Mr Dockery if it was possible to spend over €270,000 spoiling her children, Diamond said it was.

He said her car was only probably worth €500 and that she did not use money to cut down her mortgage.

The court was told in 2013 Diamond’s working arrangements with EBS had changed, resulting in a salary decrease of approximately €12,000, and, although her offending had already started before this, Mr Dockery asked if her stealing was done to 2fill the gap” and she agreed it was.

Diamond told the court she knew some day she would be found out and said it was like she was “compelled” to do it.

She said the day she walked into the garda station to report her crimes saved her life and that she did not know how to stop the stealing.

She told the court she could not believe the amount she had taken when informed by gardaí - a reaction Garda Conneally believed to be genuine.

The court was told by Diamond she was terrified of getting caught and was attempting to cover her tracks.

Asked why she had not yet provided any restitution for her stealing, Diamond said she and her husband were living week to week.

She said she has no access to her pension and was on invalidity payment of €208 per week.

Asked by State prosecutor Mr Leo Mulrooney, BL, instructed by State solicitor, Ms Elisa McHugh why she had not even put aside €50 per week for restitution, Diamond said she could not afford this.

“The kids don’t have hobbies, we’ve cut out going to Feis’, we are to the skin of our teeth, we don’t have €50 to spare.”

She told the court she could not sell her house in order to pay compensation as that was in negative equity and an attempt to secure a €30,000 loan in order to provide some restitution was unsuccessful and she could not get a loan from family.

The court had earlier heard the defendant’s husband was not aware of any of his wife’s offending until he was contacted by gardaí the day his wife went to the station.

In a statement to gardaí, she apologised for what she had done and said she could not believe she put her husband through this.

She said she was aware of the effects her wrongdoing had on EBS, a small financial institution which prided itself on knowing its customers on a personal basis.

“I know nobody will give me a job ever again.”

She said following her admittance of guilt she withdrew from normal life, would escape to her room if people called to the house and lost a lot of friends as a result of what she had done.

Now she only goes into Sligo town to do her grocery shopping and returns home again.

Addressing Margaret Magee, one of her victims who was in in court, Diamond told her she genuinely was not being fake to the woman and in different circumstances believed they would have been friends.

Mr Mulrooney probed her in relation to no ‘forensic accounting’ to explain what exactlyshe spend the money on, to which Diamond said gardaí had access to her accounts.

“It was very clear to see. When I made a cash withdrawal [from customer accounts] I would lodge it into my account.

Mr Dockery said Garda Conneally did have access to her account and accepted there was no hidden assets or signs of wealth.

By way of mitigation and explanation, Mr Dockery told the court his client had funded herself through college and had had a difficult childhood.

He said the woman wanted the best for her children and in her Probation Report it referenced that perhaps in an effort to provide her children with a happy childhood that they deserved her moral compass became ‘skewed’.

Mr Dockery told the court the defendant had overwhelming shame for her behaviour and had genuine remorse.

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