'Nasty' fraudster who stole cancer charity's money avoids prison
A man who cruelly defrauded the cancer charity he was working for in an offence described as "nasty" by a judge has escaped jail.
Suspending the six-month sentence for three years at Coleraine Magistrates' Court, district judge Des Perry told 33-year-old Ryan Abraham that had he not confessed, he would have gone to jail.
Judge Perry told the fraudster, however: "You leave here with your reputation in tatters. You are no longer able to be trusted in employment and you have to live with that."
Abraham, from Bush Park in Antrim, had been due to contest the charges against him yesterday but instead pleaded guilty to theft and false accounting while a further charge of possessing articles for fraud, namely fake raffle sheets, was dismissed.
The court heard how Abraham stole £640.50 from the Cancer Focus NI shop in Ballymoney where he was employed and also sold raffle tickets under the name of the cancer charity when there was no raffle on, between April and November 2014.
A prosecuting lawyer outlined how staff at the shop became suspicious over the handling of funds and reported it to the police. The lawyer said suspicions were raised further when a woman had volunteered to sell raffle tickets and coincidentally, her son won the raffle but no prize was given.
The court heard how Abraham was "acting completely outside the remit of the charity".
Abraham's defence solicitor submitted that in mitigation, Abraham had returned the money he stole and accepted responsibility by entering an early guilty plea, adding that "he had lost the run of himself and had ideas above his station".
Judge Perry told Abraham that he had certainly lost the run of himself, describing how the "breach of trust is a serious and nasty offence".
The judge sentenced Abraham to six months in prison, suspended for three years, for each offence, which will run concurrently.