AN employee of a document-shredding firm who stole €100,000 worth of Dublin Bus tickets that he had been trusted to destroy has been ordered to carry out community service to avoid jail.
Brian Merriman (38) misappropriated the tickets which were meant to have been taken out of circulation and shredded following a price increase by the bus company last year.
He kept the tickets before the theft was discovered and his home raided.
Dublin District Court heard €4,050 in cash was also seized at his house by gardai.
In a wider fraud operation, stolen tickets had been passed on to third parties and the company suffered a loss of revenue of at least €250,000 at the time.
A co-accused man is currently before the courts over the theft of tickets from Dublin Bus in 2011. Several shopkeepers have also been charged with handling stolen bus tickets.
Merriman was ordered to carry out 200 hours' community service instead of an eight-month jail sentence. He also ordered the return of the seized cash to Dublin Bus.
Merriman, of Season Park, Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow, pleaded guilty to stealing the tickets at Dublin Bus, Upper O'Connell Street between May and July 23, 2011.
The DPP had directed that the case could only be dealt with at District Court level on a guilty plea.
Garda Paul Burke told the court Merriman had been working as a driver with Shred It and the firm had been hired by Dublin Bus to destroy a batch of old tickets.
Dublin Bus had been alerted to the below-cost sale of tickets and notified the gardai. Following an investigation, the accused's home was searched and the tickets and cash seized. Merriman was co-operative with the investigation. The court heard the tickets had been removed by Merriman while he was in a position as a "trusted employee".
"This was a company that had great trust in Mr Merriman in that he worked for them for 14 years," Judge Cormac Dunne said.
However, between May and July 2011, he appropriated €100,000 worth of the tickets which were due to be shredded. "Parallel" to this, Dublin Bus had suffered a loss of revenue of between €250,000 and €300,000, which prompted an enquiry.
The judge said the accused's co-operation was of "huge significance" to the court in considering a penalty.
He said the defendant was not "at the higher end of the scale... particularly in the zone of masterminding any particular criminal activity".
This was supported by the fact that he had no criminal record. The accused was heavily involved in activities in his local community, particularly in children's sports and the GAA.