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Coleraine swindler who stole £100,000 from mental health charity avoids prison

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Belfast Crown Court heard the 59-year-old father-of-two has paid back all the money he stole..  (stock photo)

Belfast Crown Court heard the 59-year-old father-of-two has paid back all the money he stole.. (stock photo)

Getty Images

Belfast Crown Court heard the 59-year-old father-of-two has paid back all the money he stole.. (stock photo)

A man who stole over £100,000 from a mental health charity has avoided prison after being handed a suspended sentence.

Trevor William McKirgan, from Grasmere in Coleraine, siphoned off a total of £102,035 from Inspire Wellbeing over a five-year period.

Belfast Crown Court heard the 59-year-old father-of-two has paid back all the money he stole.

McKirgan appeared via video-link and was handed an 18-month sentence, suspended for three years. He admitted stealing the money from his employers from June 2013 to October 2018 while working as their finance business partner.

McKirgan began working at the charity in 2009, and his offending emerged after he left in 2018 and his successor discovered an irregularity in the financial records.

Records showed a payment had been made to a counsellor who had ceased working for the charity two years previously, police were informed and an investigation was launched.

This investigation revealed McKirgan had been siphoning money from the charity by diverting payments made out to self-employed counsellors into his own bank account.

At the time of his offending McKirgan was one of only a small number of people with access to the charity's payment system, and he stole small sums over a five-year period which amounted to just over £100,000.

When arrested in October 2018 he admitted the theft, co-operated with the police and said he acted alone.

McKirgan claimed he used the money to maintain his family lifestyle after losing a well-paid job he had before joining the charity.

At yesterday's sentencing Judge Stephen Fowler QC said McKirgan's offending was a serious breach of trust, where a "significant amount of money was stolen from a charity".

The judge said that after suffering financial strains for a number of reasons, it appeared McKirgan stole from his employers to "fund a lifestyle for himself and his family that was no longer sustainable on his income".

All the money has since been repaid to the charity.

Saying he accepted McKirgan was "thoroughly ashamed of his offending behaviour, deceit and lies", Judge Fowler spoke of McKirgan's fall from grace, loss of reputation and the impact this has had on him and his family.

Judge Fowler imposed a suspended sentence and warned McKirgan that any further offending over the next three years could result in a prison sentence.

Belfast Telegraph