Belfast Telegraph

Woman pleads guilty after stealing £2.3m from Co Tyrone firm

Prosecution counsel Charles McCreanor QC told the court confiscation proceedings are under way and a timetable has been drafted in this respect (stock photo)
Prosecution counsel Charles McCreanor QC told the court confiscation proceedings are under way and a timetable has been drafted in this respect (stock photo)

By Staff Reporter

A woman has admitted her guilt in what is believed to be the biggest single employee fraud case in Northern Ireland.

Her fraud against her employer - Northern Mouldings Limited (Cookstown) - totalled £2.3m, spanning an eight-year period between 2008 and 2016.

Aged in her 40s and from Co Tyrone, the woman cannot be identified, having claimed she will self-harm if named in connection with the offences.

The victims were in attendance for the guilty pleas and are to be offered the opportunity to provide impact statements ahead of sentencing.

The fraudster first appeared at Dungannon Magistrates Court in 2016 on an unprecedented 615 charges. But the case was withdrawn in the knowledge charges would later be reinstated.

After protracted legal proceedings, Judge Brian Sherrard QC last week ruled there must be movement at the next court hearing.

That took place yesterday at Dungannon Crown Court, when the defendant made her second appearance in the dock.

Immaculately dressed and speaking very softly, she accepted all charges, including the nine previously denied matters.

Judge Sherrard said a pre-sentence report was necessary while defence counsel Jim Gallagher QC added a psychiatric report is to be obtained.

The judge asked if voluntary restitution of the stolen funds was an option, to which the defence replied: "That will be dependant on the sale of the property in which (she) resides." He confirmed there is "no substantial dispute" in the £2.3m figure.

Prosecution counsel Charles McCreanor QC told the court confiscation proceedings are under way and a timetable has been drafted in this respect.

Mr Gallagher requested his client be "granted continuing bail, despite the gravity of offending. Bail greatly facilitates reports in advance of sentencing".

Mr McCreanor also said he would be speaking with the victims in the case in respect of impact statements ahead of sentencing. Judge Sherrard agreed and remanded the defendant to attend court in December.

Referring to the reporting restriction, which has been challenged throughout by the Press, he acknowledged the convictions change the position, but decided to retain the ban until the overall conclusion of the case.

However, the defence said they are intending to apply to retain the order even after sentencing under his client's human rights - a position the Press is challenging.

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