Bookkeeper who stole thousands from family-run business is jailed

Derek Moore (49) of Huntstown Avenue in Blanchardstown worked at the business for over 20 years
Bookkeeper who stole thousands from family-run business is jailed

Isabel Hayes & Brion Hoban

A bookkeeper who stole thousands of euro from a family-run business he worked at for over 20 years has been jailed for six months.

Derek Moore (49) colluded with three of his employer's customers to give them cheaper materials in exchange for cash payments, which he lodged into his own account instead of the company's.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard he later told gardaí he did so to save money for his child's scoliosis operation. He also claimed the arrangement was “not his idea” and that he was approached by the customers.

Moore, with an address at Huntstown Avenue, Blanchardstown, pleaded guilty to five counts of stealing just over €92,700 from his employer, Energy Saver Insulations Ltd, on dates between February and November 2018.

He also pleaded guilty to one count of falsifying the accounts at the company, which is located in Dublin 12, on February 15th, 2018. He has no previous convictions.

'Wheel of dishonesty'

Passing sentence on Monday, Judge Pauline Codd said Moore had to have been “at the heart” of the plan, noting he admitted in interview that the three customers were independent of each other. She said he was “the central cog of the wheel of dishonesty”.

Judge Codd said the man's employer was a small family-run business. She said they trusted Moore and the offending has had “a profound negative impact” on their business and on them personally. The managing director has had to defer his retirement, the court heard.

The judge noted bank statements submitted to the court did not wholly support Moore's assertion that he stole the money to save for his child's treatment. She said there is now acceptance there was a high amount spent on eating out, which he claimed was to cheer his child up, and a significant amount was also spent at an off-licence.

The judge said she was not impressed with Moore changing his story. She said it was apparent he was feeding his own struggles as much as his child's and was engaging in what she would characterise as “escapist behaviour” on his employer's money.

Remorse

She took into account his guilty plea, his co-operation with gardaí, his lack of previous convictions, his personal circumstances and his remorse. She noted he has repaid a sum to the company, which was partly raised by contributions from his own family.

Judge Codd sentenced Moore to two years imprisonment, but suspended the final 18 months on the basis that he is a first-time offender and is unlikely to reoffend.

At a previous sentencing hearing, Detective Garda Gareth Daly told John Byrne SC, prosecuting, that Moore cashed a total of €48,000 from the three customers on 14 separate occasions during the period in question.

The remaining money stolen represented the loss to the company for the discounted materials, the court heard.

When questioned by gardaí in March 2019, Moore said his child was waiting on a scoliosis operation and they had been “let down by the HSE”. He said the price of an operation in the United States was €30,000 and he also needed funds for travelling and time off work.

The court heard the child was eventually treated in Ireland.

'Devastating' fire

Mr Byrne told the court that Energy Saver Insulations, a small, family-run business, was hit with a “devastating” fire in February 2018, which led to a significant loss of documentation.

They hired an independent consultant to help reconstitute the documents, which led to financial irregularities being uncovered. Three customers were identified who had not paid the company, despite receiving goods.

It emerged Moore, who worked as a bookkeeper for the company for 22 years, met these three men separately on a number of occasions and they paid cash for the goods at a reduced rate. Moore then lodged the money in his personal bank account and doctored the company accounts to cover it up.

No charges have been brought against these three customers, although the court heard there are some civil cases pending.

Moore has repaid €33,000 of the money he stole, while a further €7,000 is to be transferred to the victims, the court previously heard.

When questioned by gardaí, he claimed the arrangement was “not his idea” and that he was approached by the customers. However, it was unclear whether these customers knew each other, the court heard.

'Not helping his case'

Judge Codd suggested Moore was “not helping his case” by claiming three separate people approached him and instigated the thefts.

Defence barrister, Cathal McGreal BL, conceded his client was “the inside man” in the operation. He said Moore was remorseful and had expressed his regret for what he had done.

Moore had previously been on good terms with the company directors, the court heard. He has since lost his job and is currently unemployed.

Mr McGreal said Moore used some of the money for medical expenses for his child. He said Moore did not live in a fancy house or display any signs of wealth. “He was not living it up,” he told the court.

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