Belfast Telegraph

Mother stole £100,000 from her family's credit union accounts to fund a life of luxury

By Paul Higgins and Claire Williamson

A mother-of-two who blew more than £100,000 of stolen money on her children, designer clothes and holidays wept in court as she admitted defrauding her own family and the credit union she worked for.

Standing in the dock of Antrim Crown Court dressed all in black, 39-year-old Emma Duffin repeatedly wiped away tears as she pleaded guilty to five charges of theft.

Duffin, from Church Meadows in Rasharkin, also admitted 10 counts of fraud by abusing her position as a clerk at Bannvale Credit Union between November 1, 2004 and March 1, 2010.

Prosecuting lawyer Neil Connor said while the indictment reflected £61,416 of theft and £27,500 of fraudulent applications for loans, the total amount lost to the credit union was around £129,000.

Defence lawyer Neil Rafferty revealed that the five victims were all Duffin's family members.

Judge Des Marrinan was told that Duffin was working as a clerk for Bannvale Credit Union when she took money from savings accounts of five family members and applied for loans in their names without their knowledge.

She was able to do that because at that time, clerks at the credit union looked after accounts and transactions belonging to family members in an unsupervised way.

That is believed to have changed since the thefts.

Duffin and her husband live in a large, well-kept estate in a spacious detached house on the outskirts of the village.

When approached yesterday by the Belfast Telegraph, they shut the front door.

Neighbours described them as a quiet, private family who “kept themselves to themselves”.

While the majority of residents were reluctant to comment, some said they were aware of what had happened but thought it had been dealt with before now.

It is still unclear which family members Duffin targeted but in the small, rural village of Rasharkin, some of her family live close by.

Family members who live just a few streets away also declined to comment or reveal the relationship of those robbed. The court heard that while insurance covered some of the stolen money, there was still a significant financial loss as well as a loss of reputation.

Judge Marrinan asked if there was any money left but Mr Rafferty said there was not.

The lawyer revealed that the stolen cash had been “spent on her children, designer clothes and holidays”.

The lawyer said that at the time Duffin was “spending money out of control”, she had been suffering from post-natal depression.

He said he would be submitting a psychiatric report before Duffin was sentenced. Adjourning the sentencing hearing until October 16, Judge Marrinan released a weeping Duffin on continuing bail.

But he warned Duffin that she ran “the serious risk of facing a custodial sentence” for what|he described as “very mean offences”.

“I can see by your face that you feel deeply ashamed of it but the court needs to know as much about you and your family setting and what drove you to this as possible,” said the judge.

He added that it was “extremely unfortunate that something as worthy as a credit union should lose such a huge amount of money”.

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