A 37-year-old woman working in a position of trust with Tesco stole €19,000 from their cash office in Ballincollig and used most of it to buy a car in cash.
“She went to a garage and bought the car in cash in twenties and fifties. This was not the most intelligent crime in the universe. It was clear who was to blame. It was not well-planned. It might have seemed that way to her, but it was not and it was easily detected that it was her,” defence barrister Donal O’Sullivan said on behalf of Debbie O’Riordan of Knocknagoun Place, Rylane, County Cork.
She pleaded guilty to stealing €19,000 from Tesco in Ballincollig on June 6, 2021.
Mr O’Sullivan said the most concrete sign of her remorse was that she paid the entire sum back to Tesco. She sold the car again to recoup the cash.
Det. Garda Alan Johnson said that when the investigation commenced, the accused did not cooperate and that suspicion fell on some of her colleagues who had nothing to do with any offence and that this suspicion caused them great distress.
Judge Helen Boyle said after hearing the prosecution evidence and defence submissions, “She does need to apologise to her colleagues as well. She did not cooperate with the investigation initially and suspicion fell on her colleagues who were entirely innocent.”
After a brief consultation, Mr O’Sullivan called her to make this apology. “I have apologised to them,” she said. Mr O’Sullivan then said that as well as apologising to them in person she should do so publicly.
Debbie O’Riordan then said, “I 100 per cent regret it. It changed my life. To everyone I worked with, who were questioned, and the stress I put them through I never meant for that to happen.”
The judge said other aggravating factors included the large amount of money stolen and the serious breach of trust.
Tesco Ireland was represented in court and Det. Garda Johnson said they regarded the offence as a breach of trust by the defendant who abused the position she was in, and used her knowledge of cash-handling by the company to carry out the crime.
Mitigating factors included the absence of any similar convictions in the past and the fact that compensation was paid in full.
Imposing a sentence of two years, the judge said it was finely balanced in terms of suspending this sentence but she was prepared to suspend it in full in light of the mitigating factors.