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Judge ‘not impressed’ as woman who stole over £5,000 from employer appears without restitution

Adjourning the case the district judge warned: 'This is not good enough and the starting point for this is obviously custodial'

Craigavon Magistrates Court

A district judge has said she is “not impressed” after a Portadown woman who stole over £5,000 from her employer failed to make any restitution in almost a year.

The 35-year-old’s defence said: “At the time a number of items, white goods, in her home were broken and she got herself into debt of £1,000. She was bleeding money and she started to abuse the trust of her employer because of that.”

Laura Beattie, of Churchhill Park, appeared for sentencing on one count of fraud by false representation at Craigavon Magistrates’, sitting at Lisburn, on Friday via videolink from her solicitor’s office.

Prosecution outlined that on November 28, of last year, Lavery’s Service Station in Portadown noted a failed refund of £400 the previous day at 6.45am.

Enquiries revealed that between May 10 and November 28, there had been 15 refunds to the same debit card to the total value of £5,150.

It was then established, that this defendant had been working on all these dates and following an internal investigation she admitted to the offence.

Beattie had requested to repay the money to avoid any further action but this did not happen and she was subsequently dismissed.

The matter was later reported to the police, on March 25, of this year, officers attended the defendant’s home and she provided them with the debit card which had been used in the transactions.

She attended a voluntary interview on June 23 and was informed she would be reported for the offence before the court.

Defence barrister Aaron Thompson informed the court that Beattie had “a couple of hundred pounds saved”.

He said: “She tried to contact the injured party about a repayment plan but she got nothing back. That is probably quite rightly so given the now involvement of the police.”

District Judge Rosie Watters stated: “We are a year on and there is no money. A breach of trust case is really, really serious. This is not good enough and the starting point for this is obviously custodial.”

Mr Thompson said: “She is a single mother with a 13-year-old child. She is now working as a cleaner. At the time a number of items, white goods, in her home had broken and she got herself into debt of £1,000.

“She was bleeding money and she started to abuse the trust of her employer because of that.”

District Judge Watters commented: “It is interesting that she thought of paying to stay out of trouble but she is not scared enough of this court to pay.”

Mr Thompson said his client did not have the income to pay any restitution in four or six weeks and a repayment plan would be required.

District Judge Watters stated: “I am not impressed that she has come to court without saving anything over this length of time.”

The case was adjourned until April 23, for some restitution to be before the court.

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