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€78k mortgage arrears ‘led supervisor to steal’

A COMMUNITY employment scheme supervisor was struggling with mortgage arrears of €78,000 when she stole cheques from her Fas employers, a court heard.

Carol Hutton (42) admitted taking three cheques to the value of just under €900 and lodging them into her own account at a time when she was “struggling financially”.

The thefts happened over the course of four months at the Northside Partnership, a Government-funded local community organisation.

Hutton, of Cromcastle Road, Coolock, pleaded guilty to three counts of stealing from the organisation at Bunratty Road, also in Coolock, between February 25 and June 16, 2011.

Judge Cormac Dunne adjourned the case for the preparation of a pre-sentence probation report.

Dublin District Court heard Hutton took cheques and lodged them directly into her own account. She had no previous convictions of any kind.

Hutton had started on the scheme in 1999 and “worked her way up” to the position of CE supervisor, her solicitor Tracy Horan said. She was an “exemplary employee”, who loved her job and never had any problems in it.

However, she fell behind in her mortagage repayments, building up arrears of €78,000. She unexpectedly became pregnant with her fourth child and was going through a separation at the time.

Hutton was under “extreme pressure” because of her debt.

The accused co-operated fully with the gardai and went voluntarily to them when the crime was discovered.

She had been certified as too unwell to work since 2011.

Ms Horan told Judge Dunne that the scheme was state-funded and the victim was Fas. The accused was finding it very difficult to deal with the court case and it had had a traumatic effect on her family, Ms Horan added.

Judge Dunne remanded Hutton on continuing bail, adjourning the case to a date in July.