A grandmother who stole almost €58,000 while working as a voluntary treasurer at two national schools in Co. Meath has been spared jail at Trim Circuit Court.
The court heard that Olive Martyn (57) of Meadstown, Dunderry, Co Meath had repaid all of the money by way of family and other loans and through the sale of cattle.
She had pleaded guilty last year to stealing €58,000 worth of cheques – the property of Kilbride and Dunderry National Schools – on dates between 2010 and 2015 at Dunderry Parochial House and forging the signature of Fr Noel Horneck PP Dunderry on a cheque in June 2015.
A sitting of the court heard last year the defendant had gone to a school board of management meeting where she was elected treasurer although she had no qualifications for the post.
Det Sgt Mark Looby told prosecuting counsel Carl Hanahoe BL that Martyn’s offending came to light following an audit in September 2016 which was carried out after a cheque for a school employee bounced.
The audit revealed that Martyn a mother of four had paid cheques drawn on school funds into her own account and also moved funds into the Dunderry Parish Project a Fás funded community project on which she worked.
The defendant told gardai she had begun by transferring money from the schools to the parish project to make up shortfalls in its account and then began taking money for herself using blank cheques pre-signed by Fr Horneck her co-signatory for the schools accounts.
Defence barrister Orla Crowe SC said that Martyn who had no training in book keeping had been left to run the schools finances by herself and had given in to temptation.
At a resumed hearing Judge Martina Baxter noted that all of the money had now been repaid and described the offences as not just criminal but also community offences.
The judge added that while it was clear the defendant had no accountancy training she could have sought help or claimed inability to deal with her responsibility.
The judge said she accepted Martyn’s remorse was genuine and had undergone counselling and therapy.
Judge Baxter sentenced Martyn to three years but suspended the sentence for three years.