An Ashbourne woman who stole over €600,000 from her employer has been given a two-year jail sentence.

Book-keeper Karina Cully (36) diverted money from the small office supplies company where she worked to her own bank account for over seven years. The total loss to the company was €629,000.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Cully, a married mother of two small children, spent the money on lifestyle expenses. She said she was disgusted with herself and the thefts had been like a habit or addiction which she had been unable to stop.

Cully, of Churchfield Glen, Ashbourne, Co Meath, pleaded guilty to charges of theft, forgery, deception in relation to a mortgage application and money laundering on dates between 2014 and 2021. She has no previous convictions.

Passing sentence on Monday, Judge Martin Nolan said it had been a quite simple but very efficient theft that was always going to be detected at some point. He noted there was little evidence of where Cully had spent the money.

Judge Nolan noted the mitigation was very good with early guilty pleas, full admissions and cooperation. He took into account she was unlikely to reoffend and had a strong work record.

The judge said, however, that it had been persistent theft from someone she knew very well and from a small enterprise where the person she stole from was someone she met every day.

Judge Nolan sentenced Cully to two years imprisonment.

The prosecuting garda told John Moher BL, prosecuting, that her employer contacted Cully after suspicions were aroused about certain payments and following an investigation she made full admissions to making unauthorised transfers to her personal bank account.

She told gardaí she did not know why she had done it, and told them she had not needed the money and spent it on lifestyle expenses such as holidays or eating out.

In the course of the investigation it was also discovered that a number of documents related to a mortgage application were forged by Cully, including an inflated statement of salary and a reference. She also made full admissions in relation to these offences.

A victim impact statement was handed into the court on behalf of the company but not read aloud.

Gerardine Small SC, defending, said Cully has sent an email to her former employer outlining what she had done and how disgusted she is with herself.

Cully outlined in the email that the offending had become a habit or addiction, which, although she knew was morally wrong, she was unable to stop herself. She said she sickened herself and needed help.

Ms Small said the letter of apology was a very fulsome account in relation to her wrongdoing, outlining her compulsion and that she was unable to stop herself. She said Cully had not spent the money on anything tangible but instead on items such as holidays and gifts for others.

She handed in a number of letters speaking of Cully in positive terms and outlining the fact that she was an exemplary mother and had genuine remorse and self loathing.

Ms Small asked the court to be as lenient as possible. She said she fully accepted what she did was absolutely wrong. She asked that Cully’s personal circumstances outlined in letters to the court be taken into account.