Finance worker whose ‘sophisticated’ theft of £100,000 from her charity employer is sentenced to jail

A finance officer who defrauded the charity that employed him £100,000 was today given an 18-month sentence.

Sentencing 48-year-old Nuala McLaughlin to serve six months of that sentence in jail and the rest on license, Judge Patrick Kinney told the robber there were multiple aggravating features to his offences, including “the obvious breach of trust” that she “sophisticated”. “A fraud was perpetrated against a charity over a long period of time.

At an earlier hearing, McLaughlin, a widowed mother of two from Mansefield Heights in Ballymena, confessed to one count of fraud by abusing the position of trust she held with the Antrim Enterprise Agency between July 1, 2013 and on December 31, 2019, when she “took a total amount of £100,656”.

In an agreed statement of facts, prosecutor Michael Chambers told Antrim Crown Court how McLaughlin was the financial manager of the Antrim Enterprise Agency when the registered charity reported suspected thefts to police in December 2020.

An audit had discovered a series of unauthorized transfers of money from the charity’s account to an unidentified national account and Mr Chambers revealed that over the six years the transfers amounted to £100,656.

McLaughlin was first contacted by Antrim Enterprise Agency on December 2 and denied any wrongdoing, but the next day she emailed a charity board member to confess “that she was the holder of the national bank account identified and that she was responsible for the transactions identified as irregular. ”.

In his sentencing remarks, Judge Kinney revealed that McLaughlin had “created and entered debit descriptions on the Antrim Enterprise Agency Danske Bank account in an attempt to conceal the true details of the transfers” and that she had also “created fake invoices” to cover the paper. trail that eventually brings her back to her.

This “sophisticated” aspect of the fraud was an aggravating feature, the judge said, adding that as a mitigation, she pleaded guilty and showed “genuine remorse and victim insight”.

Justice Kinney said that according to the various defense reports, there was no real motivation given by the defendant, except for general financial difficulties in the family home, while he accepted the assessment according to which McLaughlin was unlikely to reoffend and was not a danger to the public.

He told her, however, that given the steps she took to “commit the frauds”, the length of time they were committed and the breach of trust in a charity, there should be a imprisonment.

In addition, he adjourned a request relating to the proceeds of crime until September.