personal stress | 

Ex-Olympian cyclist tells of financial loss after bookkeeper stole €47k from business

Counsel said that it seemed that Moira Gleeson (62) 'got away with it once' and she just keep going. 'She simply didn't realise how much she had stolen'
John McQuaid (61), leaving Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday after he gave his victim impact statement in the sentence hearing for Moira Gleeson, who was imprisoned for stealing from him. PIC: Collins Courts

John McQuaid (61), leaving Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday after he gave his victim impact statement in the sentence hearing for Moira Gleeson, who was imprisoned for stealing from him. PIC: Collins Courts

Declan Brennan

A former Olympian cyclist has told a court of the personal stress and financial loss he suffered as a result of his bookkeeper stealing thousands from his business in a five year period.

Moira Gleeson (62) repeatedly forged the signature of business owner John McQuaid and cashed cheques which she then attributed to invoices to the company which had been already paid in cash.

In this way she stole approximately €47,000 from Mr McQuaid's printing businesses ActSun Ltd., and Quickprint, based in Dublin 15.

Gleeson of St Patricks Park, Donabate, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to three counts of theft and three of forgery on various between dates April 2010 and March 2015. The sample counts are from an indictment of 30 charges with the sums on each theft ranging from €650 to around €1,200.

Gleeson presented herself voluntarily to gardaí and made full admissions to forgery of 47 cheques and to over 100 thefts. The court heard she was using the money to pay utility bills and shopping from Marks and Spencers and was not living a lavish lifestyle.

Today Judge Pauline Codd suspended the final 15 months of a two- year prison term on the basis that she is a first -time offender and is unlikely to reoffend. She also ordered Gleeson to engage with the Probation Service for 15 months after her release.

Detective Garda Bernard Connaughton told Maddie Grant BL, prosecuting, that the company would pay another company cash and that company would then issue an invoice. Gleeson would then write a cheque to herself for that amount and write the company name on the cheque stub to make it look like the cheque was paid to the invoicing firm.

Dt Gda Connaughton said that Gleeson never gave gardaí any explanation for the thefts. He agreed with Jennifer Jackson BL, defending, that there was no evidence of any extravagant holidays or “anything of that nature”.

At the end of five interviews Gleeson did tell gardaí “I am sorry, it's not just greed”. Counsel said that it seemed that her client “got away with it once” and she just keep going and things “snowballed” and she simply didn't realise how much she had stolen.

Judge Codd said it was shocking that since Gleeson was confronted with her thefts she has made no effort to make any repayments. Ms Jackson said it seems that her client had buried “her head in the sand” but that there was “a want” to repay the money.

She said that her only asset is her three-bed family home which has an €80,000 mortgage left on it. Ms Jackson said that her client will give an undertaking that the money will be repaid. She said she has not filed a defence in a civil claim taken against her.

Reading from his victim impact report Mr McQuaid told the court that the betrayal by someone he trusted was a “kick in the face” and he now finds it difficult to trust anyone. He said the thefts have caused his anguish and mental suffering.

He said Gleeson knew his business was struggling financially because of the money she was taking but she continued to steal. As a result, he found himself “like a hamster on a treadmill working to make ends meet while she enjoyed the fruits of my labour”.

“I was making good money which was being stolen from me. The more I made, the more she stole,” he said, adding that knowledge now of what was happening left him feeling stupid.

He said he experienced years of working long hours and stressful days in order to keep creditors at bay. His first company Actsun Ltd., was struck off for late filings with the Companies Registration Office despite Gleeson telling him that she was looking after this.

He said he believes now this was a ploy by Gleeson to cover up her thefts from that company. He said he had to invest €10,000 of his own money to start up a new company called Quickprint and that Gleeson just resumed her thefts from this firm.

Becoming emotional he said the only positive thing to come out of the affair was that he took up cycling again in 2017 in order to deal with the stress.

The national road race champion, who represented Ireland in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, said “if it wasn't for the cycling the depression could have driven me to the point of no return”.

Judge Codd said that the amounts involved were significant for a small business. She said Gleeson's apology and expressions of remorse ring hollow when “she seems seems to have made absolutely no effort to pay him a penny back”.

The judge said that Gleeson used the trust placed in her to enrich herself. She noted that the Court of Appeal has stated that persistent acts of dishonesty like in this case required custodial sentences even where there were no previous convictions.

She said she accepted the defendant's remorse was sincere and noted garda evidence that Gleeson's bank accounts were “not in great shape”.

“She was paying off significant bills that others have to struggle to pay off, using company money to pay off her personal bills while Mr McQuaid was struggling to pay his everyday bills,” the judge said.

She noted as mitigation that Gleeson's admissions to gardaí and her pleas of guilty were of assistance. She said this was a substantial fall from grace for a person of previous good character.

Referring to a Probation Service report she noted Gleeson “was in a dark place at the time” and has had a difficult background which is only now facing up to. The report put her at a low risk of reoffending.

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