An ex-Anglo Irish Bank official jailed for conspiring to conceal bank accounts from the Revenue Commissioners has walked free from jail following a successful sentence appeal.
Aoife Maguire (62) had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to conspiring to delete bank accounts from the bank's internal system and conspiring to defraud the Revenue Commissioners on dates in 2003 and 2004.
Following a two-month trial and nearly seven hours of deliberations, Maguire, along with two co-accused, was found guilty by a jury and she was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by Judge Patrick McCartan on July 31, 2015.
Maguire, who was an assistant manager at Anglo Irish Bank, successfully appealed her sentence yesterday on a number of grounds.
The Court of Appeal quashed her original sentence, substituted a new nine-month sentence in its place and suspended any unserved portion.
Giving judgment, Mr Justice George Birmingham said this was a serious offence.
An additional element of seriousness was that it was committed in a publicly quoted company and in a major bank. The banking sector was one where society is entitled to expect propriety and entitled to demand higher standards, Judge Birmingham said.
Maguire - of Rothe Abbey, South Circular Road, Kilmainham, Dublin - had made real contributions to society as a volunteer and had stepped away from her career to care for her mother, the judge said.
Citing case law, Judge Birmingham said that where a court was sentencing a first time offender of previous good character, such a sentence need not be prolonged. It was the fact of the sentence rather than the duration that was most important.
Judge Birmingham said the sentencing judge erred firstly in selecting an "unnecessarily severe" sentence of 18 months and then in failing to consider suspending any part of it.
In view of the court's finding, Judge Birmingham said it was unnecessary to consider further submissions made on Maguire's behalf such as interactions between various officials or the fact that there is no open prison for Maguire to serve her sentence, unlike her male co-accused.
There was now an "implicit admission" of wrongdoing in that the appeal had been confined to an appeal against sentence only, Mr Justice Birmingham said.
The court also had regard to various testimonials.
The Governor of the Dochas women's prison stated that Maguire had participated in all activities and attended classes in history, woodwork, knitting, photography, music appreciation and Italian. Her teachers found her to be an excellent student.
A testimonial submitted by a Fr McDermott from the Bluebell area stated that he knew Maguire for 10 years and described her gentle and modest demeanour as an inspiration.
Counsel for Ms Maguire, Patrick Gageby SC, had submitted that the sentencing judge was of the opinion that the issue of loss of revenue had never been resolved. However, on the same day, a detective sergeant stated that there had been no loss to the Revenue.
It was a factual error, he said, that was relevant in sentencing.
Secondly, Mr Gageby submitted that the judge erred in pegging the case on the upper end of the spectrum. Mr Gageby said this was a discrete offence in a class of its own, unlike any other conspiracy.
Judge Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, quashed Maguire's original sentence, imposed a new term of nine months and suspended any unserved portion.
There were audible expressions of relief from about a dozen of Maguire's supporters in court as the sentence was delivered. One person said "she's out".
She was required to enter into her own bond of €100 to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for one year. When asked if she undertook to be so bound, she said "I do" and subsequently thanked the court.