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Easy Time Bank worker who stole €270k from customers' accounts released after just FIVE months in jail

Locals' fury as thief is released from prison and returns to Sligo

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Maeve Diamond

Maeve Diamond

Maeve Diamond

A bank employee who stole over €270,000 from the accounts of unsuspecting customers is back home after serving less than five months in prison for her crimes.

EBS employee Maeve Diamond was sentenced to 11 months in prison last November after a court heard details of how she has 'betrayed customers, colleagues and the financial institution' over five years of thieving in the bank.

Diamond - whose victims included a couple in their 60s who she left with just €162 of their life savings after stealing €101,000 from their account - was ordered to serve the sentence after the court heard she hadn't offered a single cent in restitution.

An outraged local, who knew a number of Diamond's victims' alerted the Sunday World to her return to the village of Ballintogher, Sligo, this week, saying it was a disgrace the mum-of-three had been released after serving less than half her sentence.

"What message does this send out?" the local asked.

"People deserve to know how lenient her sentence was and that she didn't pay a penny back.

"It pays to do crime."

Approached by the Sunday World on Thursday last and asked if she would like to say anything to her victims, Diamond, who claimed in court she'd stolen the money to fund her children's hobbies, declined.

"No," she said.

"I got a sentence and I served my sentence.

"If people are ringing you to say I'm out then they have nothing better to be doing with their time."

Sources have confirmed to the Sunday World that Diamond was released from the Dochas Centre Women's Prison in Dublin in late March after undergoing the 'Looking Out' temporary release programme.

In total, she spent fewer than five months - less than half her sentence - behind bars.

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The source said the programme is only available to inmates considered to be at minimal risk of re-offending.

Details of the shocking five-year campaign of theft from accounts of people Diamond knew personally at the EBS in Sligo were revealed at her court case and sentencing hearing in early November.

In evidence, it was heard how Diamond had withdrawn money from 10 customer savings accounts without their knowledge between 2011 and 2016.

The accounts were ones which were not being monitored by the customers, ones which the clients had expressed to the branch a wish not to receive statements, or ones that Diamond had organised for letters not to be issued to the customers.

One couple in their sixties had €101,000 taken from their account - all of their life savings.

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Maeve Diamond is back in Sligo.

Maeve Diamond is back in Sligo.

Maeve Diamond is back in Sligo.

Roisin and James Curneen's savings account had a mark of 'no correspondence' on it, but in July 2016 they discovered all they had left was a balance of €162.32.

A complaint was made in the branch and two days later, after hearing this, Diamond handed herself into Sligo garda station.

The court was told Diamond also made internal transactions in order to cover her tracks.

When money was discovered to be missing she had told customers an error had been made and then transferred monies from other people's accounts to pay back the cash she had taken.

It was noted in court that Diamond was accused of 83 offences in total with pleas of guilty to 10 counts of theft and a further 10 pleas to the use of a false instrument, namely the forgery of bank withdrawal slips.

The figure allegedly involved in the thefts was €271,000 but this sum included money which was moved from one account to another.

Diamond told a previous court sitting that the money was largely spent on hobbies and activities for her children, along with birthday and Christmas presents.

Sligo Circuit Criminal Court heard the mother of three was flabbergasted when told the amount of money stolen, 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 the money spoiling her children.

Sentencing Diamond, Judge Comerford said this pattern of stealing money from accounts was a "betrayal of customers and colleagues and the financial institution".

"It was a calculated dishonesty, creating false instruments [forging signatures], it was deliberate and sustained dishonesty," he said.

The judge accepted Diamond had no previous convictions, was a good parent to her three children, and was a productive member of society.

He said she fell into a pattern of criminality by a compulsion to provide for her children.

He believed this was brought on by a burden she carried from her own difficult upbringing.

The judge said Diamond treated many of the customers in EBS like friends, and because of her life history she began to steal on a regular basis from people she knew.

One victim of Diamond's criminality, Ms Margaret Magee, had told the court she knew Diamond "very well" and Diamond had told her she had MS, as did Ms Magee's sister.

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Our reporter Patrick speaks to Maeve Diamond.

Our reporter Patrick speaks to Maeve Diamond.

Our reporter Patrick speaks to Maeve Diamond.

The judge said he knew Ms Magee was very aggrieved Diamond said she had MS, but he acknowledged MS was a very difficult condition to diagnose and Diamond genuinely believed she had it.

The judge described her actions as "deluded behaviour".

"It was deluded behaviour, there was no real plan to avoid discovery. She responded to discovery by moving money through accounts and taking further monies," he said.

The judge accepted gardai had no evidence of Diamond holding back evidence, or money being held anywhere.

He said it was a crime of a trusted employee who betrayed a number of people for her own gain and then took more money in order to cover her tracks.

"Certainly, a number of older people not dealing with their money more actively and less likely to raise matters were targeted.

"It is a feature that it was people not dealing with accounts regularly who were targeted."

The judge said it was fortunate for account holders that it was the financial institution which suffered and not the account holders.

He added that the account holders got their money back and also received compensation for this being allowed to happen.

He said he accepted Diamond had expressed a desire to make restitution but could not, and that she did not have family resources on her side of the family to help her.

Judge Comerford said he did consider a non-custodial sentence, and sought out similar cases to this where an immediate custodial sentence was not imposed, and had thought of suspending some of the 11 month sentence imposed.

But in light of failure to furnish any form of restitution, this was not considered.

"I did consider it would be appropriate for community service, considering all factors, but I did arrive that custodial sentence was needed," the judge said.

After handing down the one-year and nine-month sentence with the final 10 months suspended, the judge again said he was aware that this sentence would be difficult for Diamond.

Diamond was given a total of 11 months in prison and the suspended 10 months are on the provision she keeps the peace and is of good behaviour for a period of two years.

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