A man who lodged over €155,000 of a university's money into his own bank account has received a fully suspended sentence.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that John Cullen (61) was “used by others” to lodge funds stolen from University College Cork (UCC) in exchange for “a very small reward”.
Cullen, with no fixed address, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to making a gain for himself by deception by lodging €155,724.68 into his account at Bank of Ireland, James Street, Dublin 8, on December 1, 2014. He has no previous convictions.
Judge Melanie Greally said Cullen's role in respect of the money was to provide a bank account where the funds, which were “undoubtedly fraudulently obtained”, could be channeled.
Judge Greally said that the offence in question has been characterised as “a very serious lapse in judgement” on the part of Cullen. She said it was accepted that this was “a one off incident” for which Cullen received “a very small reward”.
She said that if not for the fact that Cullen's family stepped into the breach and compensated both UCC and AIG, there would have been a tangible effect on the university and its resources.
Judge Greally said that given the amount of money at stake “one could reasonably expect to receive a custodial sentence”. She said the fact that there has been full restitution and no actual loss to UCC was a significant mitigating factor.
She sentenced Cullen to three years imprisonment, but suspended the sentence in full on condition that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for three years.
Prior to sentencing, Sean Gillane SC, defending, submitted that the offence was “terribly unsophisticated” and that his client had used his own bank account.
Mr Gillane said that the theft was from UCC, but that the insurance company made good on that loss and his client has now made good on the insurance company's loss. He said his client “deeply regrets” the incident and has not come to adverse garda attention since.
Counsel said that almost the entirety of the fund was to be used by others and the reward for Cullen was “minuscule”. He said that his client had been “used by others” because he had a bank account.