You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Jail for credit union worker who stole from dead clients

Extra.ie logo Extra.ie 11/02/2019 Neil Michael
a person in a blue shirt © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland

A former credit union employee who ‘plundered’ more than €400,000, mostly from the accounts of dead people, has been jailed for two years.

Moira Coughlan has nothing to show for all the money she stole. She has lost everything – including her marriage and her marital home, Cork Circuit Court heard yesterday.

She will be ‘destitute’ when she leaves prison, it was claimed.

Previously, the court has heard the 55-year-old took money over an eight-year period from 29 accounts run by what is now Synergy Credit Union in Fermoy, Co. Cork, from 2009.

Kiran Bedi in a blue suitcase © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland

Twenty-five of the accounts had belonged to dead people. The mother-of-one also stole money from the accounts of members of her own family.

Her defence barrister Patrick O’Riordan has said she pleaded guilty to stealing the money ‘as a way to get the positive attention from others’.

Although all of the accounts have now been refunded the money stolen from them – thanks to an insurance payout – Mrs Coughlan has to pay around €200,000 by way of compensation.

Despite this, Cork Circuit Criminal Court Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin last year warned her she was going to go to jail and remanded her in custody until yesterday’s sentencing hearing.

Before sentencing yesterday, Mr O’Riordan told the judge: ‘She cooperated with the investigation. She has lost an awful lot.

‘She will be destitute after this.’ Before he imposed his two-year sentence, the judge told the court: ‘Although the total sum is huge, there were largish sums (taken out) annually but nobody – including herself – seems to know where the money has gone.

‘It is accepted by everybody that the money is gone.

‘Nobody has suggested to me in evidence that this lady has a bundle of money awaiting her.’ He noted her previous good character, good work record and the fact that she had never come to Garda attention before. She was working in a position of trust, which had been breached, the judge continued.

‘But in this lady’s case, the breach of trust was phenomenal.

‘She was the insurance officer of the credit union, and the person in whom trust [resided] in dealing properly with the accounts of deceased members until Probate was taken up. She plundered a number of these accounts and, in so doing, she involved – unwittingly or otherwise – other officials who had to stamp or validate various transfers or deductions.

‘Her involvement in this, and her culpability is total. She was the author and she was the executor of all of these frauds. It is my view that a custodial sentence has to follow in a case like this.’ He said, however, she should get a substantial discount on any prison sentence because of her early pleas of guilty.

‘I do not find there are any exceptional factors that would let me fully suspend the sentence.’ He then imposed a two-year prison sentence, backdated to November 15, 2018, when she was first remanded in custody.

Mrs Coughlan, of the Stables, Sallybrook, Glanmire, began stealing as much as €5,000 a day from the various accounts in 2009 until she was caught in 2016. She took €6,000 in 2009, €55,000 in 2010, €72,000 in 2013 and €107,350 in 2016.

In total, she was charged on 592 accounts – 281 of them were for theft, 300 were for improper use of a computer and 41 were false accounting. Indeed, there were so many charges for her to sign when she pleaded guilty to them that the sitting judge allowed her to just mark an ‘X’ beside each charge because she suffers from a damaged shoulder.

The court has previously heard she would transfer money from one account to another. A number of her family members would look for money and money was taken from the deceased accounts to pay them. But after a financial controller discovered unusual activity in one of the accounts and called in gardaí, the court heard ‘she made a full admission’ and was ‘fully co-operative’.

NOW READ

Ryanair passenger 'breaks ankle' (Dublin Live)

Meghan’s 'painful letter to dad' (Sky News)

Irish boy ‘fastest’ kid in the world (Irish Mirror)

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Extra.ie

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon