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Couple who funded 'lavish lifestyle' with £1m fraud facing jail

By John Cassidy

Published 14/05/2016

Court: Dolores and Noel Savage
Court: Dolores and Noel Savage

An east Belfast couple funded a "lavish lifestyle" by defrauding a leading global medical supplies company out of £1m over seven years, a court has heard.

Dolores Savage (59) and her husband Noel Savage (60), both from Kincora Mews, previously pleaded guilty to a number of offences relating to the crime.

Mrs Savage admitted obtaining a money transfer by deception and fraud by abuse of her position within the company Arjo Huntleigh.

Belfast Crown Court heard the total amount defrauded by the couple was £1,044,113.

A hearing was told that Dolores Savage carried out the fraud by making duplicate invoices, identical to those on the company's computer system, for a legitimate supplier.

Arjo Huntleigh would then make double payments - one to the legitimate supplier, and a further to a firm called Savmac or to Dolores Savage.

The judge was told that there was significant evidence that the couple enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, with Noel Savage withdrawing large amounts of money and a total of seven vehicles being bought for cash or through hire purchase for the pair and their children.

They included a second-hand Nissan Navara 4x4, a new Peugeot 207, a used Peugeot 308, a new Mercedes Vito van, a new Ford Focus and a new Peugeot RCZ.

Judge Mr Justice Treacy said: "Nowhere on the papers that I have examined explains what happened to over £1m. Where did this money go?

"Nothing has been recovered and it appears nothing is recoverable. Are the defence going to seriously entertain that a suspended sentence is appropriate in this case when no explanation has been given as to how the money was spent or where it went to?"

He added that there had been cases of people convicted of benefit fraud and stealing from the State who had gone to prison for sums less than what was involved in the case before him.

Defence lawyers claimed that the defrauded money was not used to fund a lavish lifestyle, but was "squandered" on the couple's children.

Liam McCollum QC and Gavan Duffy QC said there was no evidence to show that the pair had spent money on themselves or to fund holidays abroad, save one or two trips to Scotland.

Mr McCollum, acting for Mrs Savage, also told the court that his client was "not a sophisticated person from a privileged or educated background".

Mr Justice Treacy released the couple on bail and said he would pass sentence next week.

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