Former principal stole almost €100,000 from Limerick school to feed gambling addiction, court hears

Stephen Condon given fully suspended 20-month prison sentence for thefts discovered in 2016

A former principal, who stole almost €100,000 from the school where he worked to feed a chronic gambling addiction, has been given a fully suspended 20-month prison sentence.

Father-of-three Stephen Condon, of The Grange, Raheen, Limerick city, admitted stealing €93,000 from St John the Baptist National School in Garryowen, in a “spectacular breach of trust”, Judge Tom O’Donnell said.

The thefts were discovered in 2016 when the school board became suspicious that money was missing and a full audit of the accounts was carried out.

Condon (43) immediately admitted misappropriating the funds to feed his gambling addiction, which had “spiralled out of control”. Condon, who was charged with 109 counts of theft totalling €93,000, with each count carrying a maximum 10-year jail sentence, pleaded guilty to 11 sample counts at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court.


The court heard he stole the money from the school’s bank and credit union accounts in increments of €400-€2,000 in September 2012 to July 2016.

Imposing the sentence, the judge said Condon was “a teacher who had risen through the ranks to become principal of St John de Baptist” who “abused his position as principal”.

The judge said Condon “resigned as principal. He let down the school he loved to teach at, as well as his colleagues, students and the whole community”.

Condon, who has been teaching in another school for the past four years, was arrested on January 1st, 2021.

“It appeared the reason for the thefts was a severe gambling addiction, he had also used his family’s savings to feed the addiction; his marriage failed because of it, but following [marriage] counselling, it is back on track,” said the judge.

“No one knew how chronic his addiction had become, and with the help of his family all of the money has been paid back to the school so there has been no financial loss.”

A “long and insightful” report by the probation service highlighted how Condon’s gambling addiction had “completely spiralled out of control”, the court heard.

The judge said Condon carried out the thefts with “premeditation and deviousness”, and they were “a spectacular breach of trust by a principal of a school who had access to the school’s accounts”.

The judge said he had to weigh up the aggravating nature of Condon’s offending against his “early admission of guilt and genuine remorse”.

He also noted Condon’s “fall from grace” and the “expressions of revulsion from society”, as well as “the devastation to his family dynamics because of his actions”.

The judge noted Condon appeared to have made an “extremely impressive recovery from his addiction, and he is now on the straight and narrow”.

Several testimonials provided to the court in support of Condon described him as a “good, decent, dedicated family man” who had “admitted serious mistakes and serious breaches of trust”, and who had “taken steps to rehabilitate himself”.

“It would appear he has redeemed himself. Thankfully the school was not at a loss,” the judge said.

In considering “a headline sentence of two-and-half years”, the judge said that after all of the factors of the case were taken into account, the “appropriate sentence” was 20 months, which he fully suspended for 20 months.

“Unfortunately, this court has seen the fallout from people’s addictions, whether it is drugs, alcohol or, in this case, gambling, which destroys their lives and has catastrophic impact on the lives of those closest to them,” the judge said.

Condon walked free from the court but with a warning from the judge “to be of good behaviour for the next 20 months” or face the possibility of having his suspended sentence activated.