An employee of the Credit Union received a suspended sentence at the Circuit Court for stealing €87,010 from customers to feed his gambling addiction.
Aiden O’Malley (36), from Kilmilkin in Maam, pleaded guilty to 35 counts of theft between November 2015 and August 2016, money taken from the accounts of 23 customers of the Credit Union.
On August 16, 2016, management at the Credit Union on Mainguard street, Galway were alerted by a customer that €3,000 was missing from their account.
After an internal investigation was conducted by management, O’Malley came forward and said that he was the one who had stolen the money.
Garda Mark Kelly told the court that just a few hours after the Credit Union reported the missing money, O’Malley called him to confess.
O’Malley had been filling out withdrawl slips in a customers name and copying their signature from past paperwork they’d filed with the Credit Union.
He’d then take money from the till and use it to gamble.
Mr. O’Malley’s barrister told the court that O’Malley was deeply ashamed of his actions, which he said happened because of a serious gambling addiction.
O’Malley had lost much of his own money gambling, including a deposit for a house that his family had lent him.
From there his addiction “spiraled out of control,” the defence solicitor said.
The court took into account that O’Malley had co-operated completely with the investigation and told Garda Kelly about all the thefts.
The defence said that this made a case that “would appear complicated and had the potential to be vast,” rather straightforward.
The gardaí didn’t have to spend time and resources going through the paper trail to identify and other possible thefts.
Judge Brian O’Callaghan noted that O’Malley kept a list of all the “transactions” he made, which the judge said indicated he knew things would come to a head, and kept it to “put the record straight.”
Garda Kelly said that he was deeply worried for O’Malley when he first interviewed him at the station, describing him as distraught and feeling suicidal.
Garda Kelly immediately contacted Cluain Mhuire addiction and mental health treatment centre.
O’Malley completed a period of residency there to get treatment for his addiction and was interview by gardaí again when he came out.
None of the victims suffered any financial loss, as they were all fully compensated by the Credit Union.
Still, the court said that there was an incredible breach of trust involved with an employee of the Credit Union taking money out customers accounts.
Especially with a “community-based, socially conscious” institution like a Credit Union Judge O’Callaghan said, adding that to an extent it was like stealing from your neighbour.
O’Malley was fired from the Credit Union, but he has found other employment and the defence said that he has been saving €100 a week since to pay compensation.
He had €10,000 in court, some of which was a loan from his family, which the judge directed should be paid to the Credit Union to cover any rise in insurance they suffered from this.
A probation report showed that Mr. O’Malley, who has no previous criminal record, was at a very low risk of re-offending.
He was also assessed for community service by the probation services and deemed suitable.
The defence also urged the judge to consider the case of Mark Hehir in asking the court not to jail O’Malley.
Hehir stole hundreds of thousands of euro from the City Bin Company while he worked there to feed his own gambling addiction.
Judge Rory McCabe gave Hehir a suspended sentence in January, which was upheld by the Court of Appeals this week after a state appeal.
Still, Judge O’Callaghan said that O’Malley’s culpability was very high even if his crimes were fueled by his addiction.
“They were premeditated and they were well planned” Judge O’Callaghan said.
But he took into account O’Malley’s remorse, and his co-operation with the gardaí which meant a long and winding investigation didn’t have to use up a lot of garda resources.
The court gave O’Malley a two year sentence, but ordered him to perform 150 hours of community service in lieu of going to prison.