herald

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Man accused of stealing €18k from children's charity

John (Cornelius) Murphy (Collins)
John (Cornelius) Murphy (Collins)

A travel agent has gone on trial accused of stealing over €18,000 from a charity he founded which sent terminally ill children to see Santa.

John, also known as Cornelius, Murphy (66) set up the Children to Lapland Appeal which has flown thousands of children to the Scandinavian region. He acted as director from its foundation in 1987 until it was liquidated in 2012.

The court heard Mr Murphy's full-time job was running United Travel, a travel agent based in Stillorgan, which flew a route to Lapland.

In 1987 he devoted one of these flights to sending terminally ill children from hospitals around the country.

Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, told the trial that bank records show Mr Murphy lodged four cheques totalling €18,643 from the charity into his personal account between June and July 2010.

Counsel for Mr Murphy, ­Patrick Reynolds BL, said that Mr Murphy's personal account was also used for ­business, including paying ­expenses and wages for United Travel.

Mr Murphy, of Church Road, Killiney, Dublin has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four counts of theft.

The cheques had been signed by one of the directors of the Children to Lapland Appeal, Joseph Reid.

Mr Reid gave evidence that he had known the accused for 35 years and was one of three directors, including Mr Murphy.

He said sometimes he would get a call to come into the office to sign cheques, and that he would sign blank cheques five at a time to save him coming back on multiple occasions.

He agreed it was his signature on the four cheques in the charges.

Mr Reid said he was "horrified" when gardai showed him they had been paid into Mr Murphy's account and that he considered such activity fraud.

Cheques

Mr Reynolds, defending Mr Murphy, asked the witness if the signing of multiple blank cheques at a time "was a Charlie Haughey, Bertie Ahern ­scenario".

Mr Reid said he was "certainly no Bertie Ahern" and said he signed them in this way "for convenience sake".

The trial continues before Judge Patrick McCartan.

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