A BANK employee who took more than €100,000 from customer accounts over a five-year period and spent it on hair, clothes and socialising was jailed for six months.
Niamh Thornton (36) pleaded guilty before Cork Circuit Criminal Court to a total of 187 counts of theft while she was working at the Bank of Ireland in Cork and Kerry.
Ms Thornton of Ahamore, Causeway, Co Kerry was first charged before Cork District Court last year and came before the Circuit Criminal Court on a signed plea of guilty.
The charges were brought contrary to the Criminal Justice, Theft and Fraud Offences Act.
The amounts were fraudulently taken from the accounts of three Bank of Ireland customers.
Sums deducted from the various accounts ranged from €100 to €2,000.
The court heard that the withdrawals from the accounts took place over a five-year period between December 2008 and December 2013.
An alert bank colleague became concerned about irregularities over the accounts involved at the Macroom branch.
They reported the matter to bank superiors and gardaí were later contacted. Ms Thornton was suspended from her duties following an internal review.
She made immediate admissions to detectives about what had happened and fully co-operated with the subsequent investigation.
Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin was told that no bank customer was at a loss as a result of the incidents, with the sums being repaid by the bank into the various accounts.
A total of €101,500 was involved in the various charges.
Ms Thornton’s family managed to raise €20,000 which was repaid to Bank of Ireland. She has since lost her job at the bank.
The court was told that the money was spent on items such as Ms Thornton’s hair, clothing and on socialising.
She was suffering from personal problems at the time and also felt isolated working in Cork away from her native Kerry.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said it was a very serious breach of trust by the bank clerk and warranted a custodial sentence.
He also said he had to take into account that a substantial portion of the sum involved would most likely never be repaid.
Ms Thornton was handed a three-year prison sentence with the final two-and-a-half years suspended.