University student stole €7,000 from employer to pay for his education, court hears

Eoram Dobnam De Lima (26) regularly voided transactions while working on the till in a Centra store, before taking that amount in cash at the end of his shift.
University student stole €7,000 from employer to pay for his education, court hears

Isabel Hayes and Brion Hoban

A university student who stole nearly €7,000 from his newsagent employer to help pay for his masters course in dispute resolution has received 120 hours of community service.

Eoram Dobnam De Lima (26) regularly voided transactions while working on the till in a Centra store, before taking that amount in cash at the end of his shift.

De Lima, with an address in Newport Street, Dublin, pleaded guilty to three counts of stealing property from Centra in Charlemont Street between November 1st, 2019 and January 15th, 2020. He has no previous convictions.

He stole a total of €6,936 in cash over 742 voided transactions, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

'Extremely remorseful'

At a previous sentencing hearing in March 2021, Gerardine Small BL, defending, said De Lima was extremely remorseful and wished to pay the money back, but his passport has been surrendered as part of his bail conditions, and he cannot renew his work visa.

Ms Small agreed with Judge Melanie Greally that De Lima is still studying and is still financing his masters course. She said her client was currently on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

“It might have been better directed to making good the loss to Robert O'Leary than financing his education,” Judge Greally said.

“He may not be in a position to enjoy the benefits of that education as a result of this offence.”

The judge adjourned the matter to get a number of reports and to allow De Lima to save money as restitution for Mr O'Leary.

“The breach of trust is a very significant one,” Judge Greally said.

“Mr De Lima is going to have to put his best foot forward on all fronts if he is to avoid some element of custody on the next occasion.”

Voided transactions

On Wednesday, Ms Small confirmed that her client had made full restitution to the injured party.

The judge said that in view of the fact De Lima has made restitution to his former employer and has engaged with restorative justice, she would temper the amount of hours of community service she imposed so that it did not interfere unduly with his study and work commitments.

Judge Greally ordered that De Lima complete 120 hours of community service in lieu of 18 months imprisonment.

At the previous sentencing hearing, Garda Tao Yu told Derek Cooney BL, prosecuting, the owner of the store, Robert O'Leary, was alerted to some irregularities in voided transactions by a till security system.

He and the shop manager investigated the time of the transactions and matched them with CCTV footage, where De Lima could be seen carrying out the voided transactions and making a note of them.

The court heard De Lima would tot up the amounts of the voided transactions at the end of the day before taking that amount in cash out of the till.

When confronted by his managers, De Lima immediately confessed to taking the money. He also admitted to taking money from the shop in September 2019, but CCTV footage did not go back that far, so there was no available evidence, the court heard.

Ms Small said De Lima is originally from Brazil but has been living and studying in Ireland for the last three to four years.

“He used the money to pay for college fees,” Ms Small said.

“He is doing a Masters in Dispute Resolution.”

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