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Thursday 23 November 2017

Mum's €25k spending spree on 'stupid things' after banking blunder

Margaret McDonnell pleaded guilty to 13 counts of theft.
Margaret McDonnell pleaded guilty to 13 counts of theft.

A woman went on a €25,000 spending spree after a bank accidentally deposited €51,000 into her account.

Margaret McDonnell (23) spent the money on items for her two children including clothes and shoes, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

For two weeks McDonnell ate out every night, took her friends and family out for dinner and bought gifts including two crystal vases and a "crystal mushroom lamp".

Oisin Clarke, defending, said it was a case of the goose laying golden eggs and McDonnell spending the money before it stopped.

McDonnell, of Rathvilly Park, Finglas, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of theft of cash from Bank of Ireland on dates between March 7 and 16, 2013. Between large ATM withdrawals and money spent in shops and restaurants, a total of €24,946 was taken.

Judge Cormac Quinn adjourned the case to April and ordered a probation report to assess McDonnell's suitability for community service.

Det Gda Karl Smith told the court that in March 2013 a Bank of Ireland customer went into the branch in Finglas to get details to allow the transfer of €51,808 into his account from a foreign bank account.

He was given an Iban number, but when the money did not later show up in his account he contacted the bank again. It was then discovered he had been incorrectly given the details of McDonnell's account.

The €51,808 had dropped into her account on March 6. The following day she withdrew €5,000.

Over the next nine days she spent large amounts in Dunnes Stores, Tesco, Heatons, Centra, Lifestyle Sports, Shoe Rack and New Look.

On discovering its mistake the bank took back the €26,862 remaining from the original deposit and wrote to McDonnell asking her to repay the rest, but she ignored the letter.

After her arrest she accepted full responsibility for spending the money. She told gardai that she thought the money was hers if it was in her bank account.

"I just went on a high. It was such a lot of money. It was in my account so as far as I was concerned it was mine," she said. She added that she spent the money "on everything and anything, stupid things".

"If only you knew me, you would know I was bothered by this. Any young girl on social welfare like me would have done what I did," she told gardai.

Scared

She said she ignored the letter from the bank because she was scared and realised she had done something wrong.

Mr Clarke said his client had never before had disposable income to spend and had never been able to buy gifts for friends or family. On March 7 she spent €3,844 in a gift shop after buying two crystal vases and a crystal lamp.

He said McDonnell had never been in trouble and tried to live her life in an upright fashion. Det Gda Smith said it was highly unlikely she would re-offend.

He said that looking back on her younger self she could not believe how stupid she was. He said she had "frittered the money away" and had nothing to show for it.

Mr Clarke said McDonnell was in receipt of €250 lone-parent allowance each week and could only afford to pay €10 or €20 out of this to make up the stolen money.

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