A FORMER employee of Estuary Credit Union who stole more than €16,000 from a children’s savings scheme has been told she will avoid a prison sentence if she continues to repay the monies she stole.
Amanda Schofield, aged 51, of Dooncaha, Tarbert pleaded guilty to stealing the money from the credit union which has branches in Glin and Tarbert, on dates between January 1, 2010 and June 1, 2012.
At a previous hearing, Limerick Circuit Court was told an investigation was launched on May 28, 2012 after a manager at the Credit Union noticed the balance of the “Sammy Stamps” account seemed very low.
The court was told defendant made admissions to management when she was confronted despite the absence of any paper trail linking her to the theft.
During a sentencing hearing, Detective Garda Pat Lee agreed with Michael Collins BL, prosecuting, that Ms Schofield had “made use of a system defect” to withdraw the money in small amounts undetected over a two year period.
Mark Nicholas BL, defending, said his client only began stealing the money after her husband lost his job following a nervous breakdown in 2009.
Mr Nicholas said his client had always intended to pay back the money, when her financial circumstances improved. “It started off small but got out of control,” he said.
In mitigations, he said his client, who has since lost her job, had met with gardai voluntarily and had made full admissions in relation to the offence.
Judge Carroll Moran was told that Estuary Credit Union was insured for the losses and that the defendant has entered into a “private arrangement” to repay the insurance company at a current rate of €10 per month.
Mr Nicholas added that his client had paid the €634 excess on the Credit Union’s insurance policy and that she had managed to assemble almost €1,000 since the previous court date in June.
He added that she has not worked since the incident, which has received considerable coverage in the media.
Judge Moran imposed a two year prison sentence which he suspended for ten years on condition Ms Schofield continues to make repayments to Liberty Insurance.