herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

'Disgraced' garda fined €2k and faces the sack over ATM scam which cost bank €450

Court

Garda Brendan Phillips at Dublin District Cout. Photo: Court Collins
Garda Brendan Phillips at Dublin District Cout. Photo: Court Collins

A "disgraced" garda could lose his job after he defrauded a bank out of €450, a court has heard.

Garda Brendan Phillips pleaded guilty to three deception charges and two counts of attempted deception in connection with AIB ATM withdrawals.

The former Sligo inter-county footballer avoided a prison sentence, but was fined €2,000 after he admitted the fraud charges.

Dublin District Court was told that he had become a "pariah in his community" because of his actions and had moved to the UK.

Judge Bryan Smyth said Phillips (35) had made a "serious error of judgement" that would have "catastrophic consequences" for his career.

Defending barrister Michael Bowman said his client had been a garda for 12 years and had been suspended pending the outcome of the case.

He was a community garda in Blanchardstown, had coached football, and young people had "looked up to him".

It was a "very small amount of money" and the accused "finds himself effectively disgraced in his profession, disgraced within his community and... practically unemployable", Mr Bowman said.

Account

The court heard the withdrawals and attempted withdrawals in March and April 2013 were made by Phillips on his account and his joint account with his wife. The incidents happened in Clonsilla, Clonee and Blanchardstown.

Det Superintendent JJ Keane told the court that in the incidents Phillips used his bank card to withdraw €170. He took €150, leaving €20 in the dispensing tray.

The ATM would then take back the remaining cash. This was flagged as an "exceptional transaction", which resulted in Phillips' account being credited to the full amount - €170.

However, if there were more than two of these transactions within a particular space of time, the account was not refunded.

Phillips took €300 from the joint account in two incidents and then took €150 from his personal account.

When the anomalies were discovered by the bank's fraud prevention unit, Phillips immediately agreed to refund the money he took. This was done by the time the garda investigation began, which the accused co-operated with, identifying himself on CCTV.

Phillips - who is from Sligo and with a recent address at Charnwood Green, Clonsilla -had initially denied the charges, but changed his plea before the case went to trial.

Last December, co-accused Garda Raymond Geelan (38) was fined €3,000 after he admitted defrauding AIB out of €600 in similar circumstances.

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