Belfast Telegraph

Drug addict accountant jailed for theft of £1m at care home

Michael Kinder at Belfast Crown Court yesterday
Michael Kinder at Belfast Crown Court yesterday

By Ashleigh McDonald

An accountant who stole over £1m from a south Belfast care home has been jailed.

Michael Kinder, whose offending was linked to his addiction to the painkiller Oxycontin, was handed a three-and-a-half year sentence at Belfast Crown Court for defrauding the Nazareth House Care Village of £1,036,955.

Telling Kinder his actions led to a loss of his professional reputation, Judge Kevin Finnegan QC informed the 52-year-old father-of-four that he will spend 18 months in prison followed by a two-year period on licence.

A defence barrister said all of the money stolen by her client had been paid back to the charity and cited Kinder's actions as a "spectacular fall from grace".

Before passing sentence on Kinder, from Maryville Park in Belfast, Judge Finnegan was told that the former accountant had admitted three charges - fraud by abuse of position, converting criminal property and false accounting.

The offences were committed over a six-and-a-half-year period from April 2011 to October 2017, when Kinder was responsible for the financial affairs of the care village on the city's Ravenhill Road.

Crown barrister David Russell revealed Kinder's offending emerged in 2017 after Nazareth Care Ireland conducted a routine audit and queries arose.

These questions led to an internal investigation, which Kinder assisted with in his role as a "trusted third party financial professional".

Kinder, the Crown said, had provided financial support services to Nazareth House for 25 years and certified its annual accounts.

Mr Russell said that in August 2017 it emerged that bank statements provided by Kinder were "not genuine" and had been "changed fraudulently".

Further financial statements were requested from Kinder but were "not forthcoming".

It subsequently transpired that money was being transferred from the charity and into two bank accounts held by Kinder.

This included around £50,000 which was assigned for staff pensions but Kinder transferred it into his own accounts.

Mr Russell said that in October 2017 the full scale of the fraud became apparent and the police were alerted.

Defence barrister Eilish McDermott QC said every penny taken by Kinder has since been paid back with money lent to him by a "lifelong friend" and Kinder "will spend the rest of his life paying that money back".

She said Kinder broke his ankle and was initially prescribed Oxycontin, which he then became addicted to and which resulted in behavioural changes and mental health issues.

Jailing Kinder, Judge Finnegan addressed the former accountant and said "you will no longer be able to practise your profession".

Judge Finnegan said that while he accepted Kinder had paid back the money, his actions almost led to a "cash flow crisis" within the charity.

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