A judge has hit out at online gambling and credit companies after jailing a Co Tyrone man who fleeced his bosses of more than £300,000 to fuel his addiction to internet betting .
Dungannon Crown Court Judge David McFarland described it as “a moral tale of almost Biblical proportions” as he jailed 27-year-old Eamonn McGirr for 20 months after he agreed to serve a further 12 months on probation.
McGirr, from Richmond Drive in Clogher, admitted charges of fraud. He stole the money over a two-year period from Tyrone Tiling Services in Omagh.
Judge McFarland said online gambling companies needed to look at how they did business, pointing out that people with |addiction problems could — apparently unchecked — gamble away thousands of pounds with a single click of a mouse.
He said McGirr had not only betrayed trust placed in him and defrauded the company, but potentially put the jobs of his fellow employees at risk.
Prosecution lawyer Michael McAleer told the court that McGirr would write company cheques to himself and deposit them in his own bank account.
The court heard how McGirr had become fascinated with gambling while a student and how that fascination had turned into a much bigger problem when he started work.
However, he soon had two overdrafts on two bank accounts, a loan of almost £5,000 from the Credit Union and was also running up bills on five credit cards. All this money was quickly lost and it was then that he began to steal from his employer. Defence QC Brian Fee said the fraud had been “unsophisticated” and McGirr had known he would eventually be caught.
Former Armagh GAA footballer Oisin McConville, who also had a highly publicised addiction to gambling, was in court to support the defendant, who has been undergoing treatment for his addiction since his actions were uncovered last year.