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Sentencing of £1m fraud couple on hold after illness puts husband in hospital


Dolores Savage and husband Noel

Dolores Savage and husband Noel

Dolores Savage and husband Noel

A Belfast man who was due to be sentenced over a £1m fraud has been admitted to hospital with heart trouble, a court heard yesterday.

Noel Savage (60) previously pleaded guilty to entering an arrangement with his wife Dolores to acquire criminal property, and to converting criminal property.

Dolores Savage (59) previously admitted to obtaining a money transfer by deception and fraud by abuse of her position with leading medical equipment company ArjoHuntleigh.

The couple, from Kincora Mews, were due to appear in court yesterday to learn their punishments.

However, sentencing was adjourned after Gavan Duffy QC, representing Noel Savage, revealed that his client "had been admitted to hospital, where he is being treated by a consultant cardiologist".

Mr Duffy told Mr Justice Treacy that he was waiting on a report from the consultant cardiologist on the defendant's condition and on another report from Savage's GP.

"Mr Savage has a significant history of serious coronary problems," he said.

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"He'll be in hospital for the next few weeks."

Mr Justice Treacy said he would adjourn sentencing until all the relevant medical reports were made available.

Last week the same court was told how the couple defrauded ArjoHuntleigh out of £1,044,113 over a seven-year period to fund a "lavish lifestyle".

However, this was denied by defence lawyers, who claimed that the money was "squandered" on the pair's children.

Earlier the court heard how Dolores Savage carried out the fraud by making invoices identical to ones on the company's computer system for a supplier.

ArjoHuntleigh would then make duplicate payments - one to the legitimate supplier and then a further one to a company called Savmac, or to Dolores Savage.

Prosecution lawyer Robin Steer said Dolores Savage was employed by ArjoHuntleigh from August 2003 as a purchase ledger in the accounts department at its Belfast branch at Sydenham industrial estate in Belfast Harbour Estate.

The judge was told that there was evidence of a "lavish lifestyle", with large amounts of money being withdrawn by Noel Savage and a total of seven vehicles being bought for cash or being acquired through hire purchase agreements for themselves or for their children.

At one point monthly car payments totalling £1,561 were coming of the Savmac business account, which "far exceeded the legitimate income".

"Monies were given to the defendants' children," the court heard.

This included funding trips abroad and study towards obtaining sailing and mountaineering qualifications in respect of a business venture that did not come to fruition.

The defendants also rented apartments, as well as providing large sums of money and cars, it was alleged.

The court heard that the couple did not appear to have any assets, did not own their own home and were in debt to credit card companies. The cars they bought had also been sold or repossessed.

In mitigation, it was claimed that the money did not go towards funding a lavish lifestyle for the couple, but instead had been "squandered'' on their children.

Defence lawyers Liam McCollum QC and Gavan Duffy QC said there was no evidence to show that the couple had spent the defrauded money on themselves, or on funding foreign holidays.

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