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Mother weeps as she avoids jail over £13,000 fraud

By Gerry McLaughlin

A single mother-of-three has been handed a suspended jail sentence after admitting fraudulently obtaining more than £13,000.

Carrie Burns pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud by dishonestly abusing a position of trust.

The fraud involved obtaining eight cash loans using a customer's name to cause loss to Provident Personal Credit.

The offences happened between March 9 and December 4, 2012.

The 28-year-old, from Sullenboy Park, Cookstown, wept softly at the back of Dungannon Crown Court during yesterday's sentencing.

Judge Neil Rafferty said only a custodial sentence would suffice.

But he added that there were a number of factors which brought this case into the exceptional bracket and make a suspended sentence possible.

The court was told the offences were committed when the defendant was in "dire financial straits".

Judge Rafferty said the defendant was like a "drowning man, you looked for some lifeline to grab on to".

The judge added the mother had come up with the idea to use people's credit ratings to get loans to pay off her personal debts.

But it was a case of "robbing Peter to pay Paul" and the defendant sank deeper and deeper into debt.

The judge said he accepted the defendant's plea that she had slept well on the day she was detected.

He said in cases of breach of trust which involve theft, those who are entrusted with money can only expect a custodial sentence.

The judge gave the defendant a 15-month jail sentence concurrently on each count, and the sentence was suspended for two years.

He said the case was five years old and had been hanging over the defendant's head during that time, as she knew she would meet a judge and he would sentence her.

Judge Rafferty said he was taking into account her early guilty plea, the delay, and also giving consideration to the fact that the defendant was a 28-year-old mother.

He told Burns that it was clear she had provided "loving care and it is clear you are a good mother".

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