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NI woman filtered £1.9m from firm to fund luxury lifestyle

Judge asked to impose Hospital Order on Co Tyrone employee


The woman can not be named.

The woman can not be named.

The woman can not be named.

A Co Tyrone woman who defrauded her employer out of almost £2m used the cash to fund a luxury lifestyle, a court heard.

Five years after she was first arrested, details of her vast offending were finally disclosed at Dungannon Crown Court following repeated delays.

Press have been banned from naming the woman, based on her threat to self-harm if identified. This has now extended to concerns around imprisonment, leading the defence to seek Judge Brian Sherrard QC to impose a Hospital Order.

Aged in her 40s, she was in court yesterday to hear the litany of offending she carried out over an eight-year period.

Prosecution counsel Charles McCreanor QC said this involved 26 counts of fraud and money laundering totalling some £1.9m.

It was established the defendant significantly breached the trust of her Cookstown-based employers, where she was in charge of finances. Despite enjoying a good salary, she filtered cash from the company to the extent it was on the verge of collapse. The continuous criminality totalled in the region of 500-600 individual criminal transactions, by way of unauthorised withdrawals, electronic transfers, fraudulent bank statements and forging of signatures.

Figures identified expenditure was used to sustain a luxury lifestyle for the defendant in her lavish house set in its own grounds deep in the countryside.

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Forensic examination showed lifestyle spend of £141,000; general expenditure of £360,000; property development £356,000; interior design of £311,000; fashion and beauty of £231,000 and £145,000 on jewellery.

Mr McCreanor explained the defendant “made up false bank statements” and provided these to the company board and accountants, with fictitious figures.

She forged the name of a former company employee who had left after a very serious road traffic accident.

Mr McCreanor said: “There was significant planning and repeated offending over years … an extremely lavish lifestyle was indulged upon.”

He added the defendant had personal control of the financial records, destroying all documentation on realising she had been discovered.

Following arrest, she admitted the offences, claiming the funds were spent: “Just on holidays. There’s nothing to show for it”

Mr McCreanor also disclosed the defendant approached one of the company directors and told him ‘in confidence’ she was suffering from a rare cancer.

But there was no cancer and the defendant had used a sensitive issue to ensure she could continue her lifestyle by accessing vast sums without interference.

Defence lawyers accepted no funds have been repaid, but stressed willingness and the “principle property” — the defendant’s home — is on the market.

Sentencing was adjourned.

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