A 51-YEAR-OLD Macroom woman who stole over €200,000 from her employer has been given a suspended sentence after a judge heard that she had repaid the money and was unlikely to ever offend again.
Margaret McCarthy Creedon from the Sally Gardens, Millstreet Road, Macroom, had pleaded guilty to six sample charges from a total of 50 charges that she stole a total o f €205,000 from Macroom Haulage between 2000 and 2013.
Judge Gerard O’Brien had adjourned the matter at Cork Circuit Criminal Court for McCarthy Creedon to be assessed for community service, but he said the offences were too serious and their seriousness had to be marked by a sentence.
He handed down a five-year suspended sentence.
He said that the greatest aggravating factor in the case was the fact that McCarthy Creedon’s offending was not a once-off, spur-of-the-moment matter, but had continued for 13 years, including at times when she was aware the company was struggling to survive.
Last month, Macroom Haulage owner Paddy Murphy had said Ms McCarthy Creedon had worked for his company for 22 years as a bookkeeper and he found her crimes difficult to comprehend, given their two families had been close.
He acknowledged that McCarthy Creedon had paid back the money and written a letter of apology but the injury went beyond the money and, while they had managed to save the company, they continue to feel a huge emotional impact as a result of her crime.
Last Friday, Judge O’Brien said there were mitigating factors in McCarthy Creedon’s favour, including the fact that the separated mother-of-three had repaid all the money and had immediately admitted the crime and co-operated fully with gardai when she was first confronted.
Equally important was the fact that she had pleaded guilty to the charges and spared the State a long and complex trial and this was all the more pertinent given that the investigating officer, Det Garda Tom O’Sullivan had since retired from the force, he said.
Judge O’Brien noted that McCarthy Creedon had no previous convictions and he was satisfied from a probation report that she would have neither the opportunity nor the desire to commit similar offences again and he was satisfied that she would not come before the courts again.
He also noted that she had suffered considerable public shame and embarrassment in her local community as the matter had been highly publicised in the Macroom area and she had written a letter expressing her remorse and regret, which he believed was genuine.
He said he believed the appropriate term was seven years, with a two-year discount for her guilty plea.
However, because she had repaid all of the money, had no previous convictions, and was unlikely to come before the courts again, he would suspend the five-year term, on condition that she be of good behaviour and keep the peace for a period of five years, the judge said.