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Derry man who defrauded company of more than £100k given custodial sentence


Sean Patrick O'Neill was given a custodial sentence (stock photo)

Sean Patrick O'Neill was given a custodial sentence (stock photo)

Sean Patrick O'Neill was given a custodial sentence (stock photo)

A Co Londonderry man who used his position as a sales manager to defraud his employers was handed an 18-month sentence on Thursday.

Sean Patrick O'Neill, from Parkmore Close in Magherafelt, appeared at Belfast Crown Court via a videolink and was ordered to surrender himself to custody at Laganside Courts at 10am on Friday.

The 31-year old was informed by Judge David McFarland that he will spend the next nine months in prison, followed by a nine-month period on licence.

At Thursday's sentencing, it emerged that O'Neill's offending led to a loss of more than £100,000 to the company, which was forced to lay off staff as a result.

O'Neill admitted three offences - fraud by abuse of position and two counts of fraud by false representation - which he committed over a period from May 2018 to March 2019.

He began his employment with the commercial printers in greater Belfast as a salesman in 2015, before being promoted to sales manager. In this role, O'Neill was responsible for vetting new customers and setting up lines of credit.

Judge McFarland said O'Neill then "entered into an arrangement with another party to create false customers", and that as part of his offending O'Neill would allocate money paid for genuine services to these false customers, which he then retained.

The Judge said O'Neill's criminal behaviour emerged when "money was no longer available and the matter came to light," and that the money he generated by fraud was used to fund his gambling and substance addictions.

With the loss to the printing company amounting to between £122,000 and £154,000, Judge McFarland described O'Neill's actions as "confidence-sapping offending" and noted the "major financial impact" it had on the small company, which had to lay off staff.

The Judge said he had noted O'Neill's lack of previous offending, his good work record and the steps he has taken to tackle his addiction issues.

Also noted was the period of offending, the amount involved and the impact it has had on the company.

Imposing a prison sentence, Judge McFarland said: "People have to be aware that if they are put in a position of trust in whatever capacity, and if that trust is breached, that will lead to an immediate custodial sentence."

Addressing O'Neill on the video link, Judge McFarland ordered him to surrender himself to custody tomorrow morning. When asked by the Judge "do you understand that?", O'Neill replied "yes, Your Honour."

Belfast Telegraph