Woman ‘succumbed to temptation’ and stole €23,000 from employer

Suspended sentence for Maura Keogh (60) who court hears was trying to keep head ‘above water’

A woman who stole more than €23,000 from her former employer by producing faked bank lodgement slips has received a fully suspended sentence a Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

A woman who stole more than €23,000 from her former employer by producing faked bank lodgement slips has received a fully suspended sentence a Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

A woman who stole more than €23,000 from her former employer by producing faked bank lodgement slips has received a fully suspended sentence.

Maura Keogh (60) was the accounts manager at a machinery firm when she stole the money while lodging cash and cheques.

Keogh, of Willowbrook Lawns, Celbridge, Co Kildare, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 18 sample charges of theft and three counts of false accounting at CS Construction Spares Ltd, Clondalkin, on dates between December 31st, 2015 and September 6th, 2016.

Passing sentence, Judge Melanie Greally said that during a period where the accused was going through some financial pressures owing to her being the sole earner of the household, she “succumbed to the temptation” to steal from her employer.

“This episode of offending appears to have been a very serious aberration from an otherwise law-abiding life,” Judge Greally said of the mother of two.

The judge said Keogh has expressed considerable remorse and has “made good” the amount of money stolen from her employer.

She said the accused has no previous convictions and has been assessed as being at a low risk of reoffending.

Suspended in entirety

Judge Greally sentenced Keogh to 2½ years imprisonment, but suspended the sentence in its entirety on strict conditions.

At a previous sentencing hearing, Garda Linda Ryan told Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, that Keogh was the accounts’ manager at the firm until the theft was uncovered.

Garda Ryan said Keogh had volunteered to lodge cash and cheques from the machinery distributor’s trade counter for several months, saying she was “going to the bank anyway”.

When Keogh went on holiday, another colleague discovered a discrepancy between the amount on record and the amount actually lodged on August 26th, 2016. Cheques worth €1,365 had been lodged, but €340.50 in cash had not.

When her employers confronted Keogh at a meeting on September 16th, 2016, she admitted what she had done and was dismissed four days later. The total amount she pleaded guilty to stealing was €23,366.

In his victim impact statement, which was read before the court, CS Construction Spares’s owner Joseph O’Reilly said he preferred a management style which afforded his senior staff “almost complete autonomy” in the day-to-day running of the firm.

‘Ripple effect’

Mr O’Reilly said Keogh had been part of a team to which significant responsibilities had been delegated. He said there was a “ripple effect” which hurt morale among staff across his group of businesses.

He said in the end he decided he had to close his Dublin premises and move the CS Construction Spares business to his head office in Dunleer, Co Louth. Several of Keogh’s colleagues also lost their jobs as a result of the restructuring.

David Fleming BL, defending, said his client’s husband had been seriously ill since the late 1990s, which had left her as the sole breadwinner for her family and his full-time carer.

Counsel said Keogh was “under serious financial pressure” when she took the money and was “desperately trying to keep her head above water”. He said the position his client was in allowed her the opportunity to make this “mistake”.

“This isn’t the case where Ms Keogh took the money to fund a lifestyle which she couldn’t afford. She hated what she was doing and had always intended to pay it back,” he said. “But every time she did it the hole was getting deeper.”

Counsel said his client is the mother of two adult children, one a professional athlete, the other working in England.