Post office manager who stole €1.75m for gambling habit jailed for three years

Thu, Dec 20, 2012, 00:00

A post office manager who gambled €40,000 on the Norwegian women’s soccer team as part of a gambling spree using stolen money has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Wexford Circuit Criminal Court heard yesterday that Tony O’Reilly (37), Sandhills, Hacketstown Road, Carlow, stole €1.75 million over a 14- month period to feed his gambling habit. He had previously pleaded guilty to six offences of theft at Gorey Post Office. He appeared before Judge Pauline Codd yesterday.

He had also pleaded guilty to six charges of falsifying An Post lodgement dockets between December 6th, 2010, and June 29th, 2011.

The incidents only came to light in June of last year when a regional audit was being carried out at the post office.

The court heard O’Reilly had developed a chronic gambling problem and he had an account called “Tony Ten” with Paddy Power Bookmakers. When the account was examined it was found that over the period in question it had a turnover of €10 million, with €8.3 million in winnings and €1.7 million in losses.

Det Garda Ian Hayes of Gorey Garda station had told the court that O’Reilly said the theft started at the post office when he sometimes took a bag of coins from a larger bag which then was not checked. If it was a bag of €2 coins he would replace it with a bag of 2 cent coins so as not to highlight the weight difference.

In April 2010, O’Reilly had taken about €8,000, which increased over the months to €80,000 and by the end of the year, he had taken €280,000.

At that stage, to cover himself during an audit, he brought an accountable receipt for €97,538 into the toilet at work and changed it to €397,538, thus concealing the misappropriation.

Gardaí said O’Reilly was married with a two-year-old child and he co-operated at all times with them.

O’Reilly joined An Post in 1998 and worked for a time in Tallaght before returning to Carlow. In 2009 he was appointed manager in Gorey.

Patrick McCarthy SC, defending, said O’Reilly did not benefit from the money and lived in a modest house.

He was viewed by Paddy Power Bookmakers as a highly valued customer and was brought on all-expenses paid trips to the Europa League Final in the Aviva Stadium and other sporting events.

The court heard that O’Reilly had given up gambling completely, had attended courses at addiction centres, wanted to become an addiction counsellor himself and had co-operated fully with gardaí.

At yesterday’s sentencing, Judge Codd sentenced O’Reilly to four years in prison but suspended the final year on condition that when he came out, he attended further gambling addiction counselling.