A woman who stole over £8,000 from the accounts of customers while working at a Portadown bank was given suspended prison sentences last Friday at Craigavon Magistrates Court.
Heather Dickson (52), Quality Hill, Laurelvale, admitted four charges of fraud by abuse of position between January 19, 2012, and March 28, 2014.
The first charge involved the sum of £5,050, the second £200, the third £400 and the fourth £2,663.
On each charge she was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 18 months, with the terms to run concurrently.
The case had been adjourned from a previous court so that a pre-sentence report could be prepared.
A prosecutor said that on March 25 last year police were made aware of irregular account withdrawals involving customers at Barclay’s Bank in Portadown.
She added that the defendant had been a cashier at the bank for 34 years and had made 38 withdrawals.
When interviewed she said her husband had been in full time employment when an injury forced him to take up a new job which meant a reduction in pay and hours.
The prosecutor said there were money difficulties and the defendant accepted she made the withdrawals.
Mr Richard Monteith, representing the defendant, said her husband, who had been hospitalised, had addictions to gambling and had put at risk the family home and had taken out a loan she was not aware of.
He added that having ‘survived that hell’ her husband then died and she succumbed to one temptation and that led to 38 times.
Mr Monteith said his client spoke to her boss and made a full, frank and detailed confession and the company hesitated before making a complaint to the police.
He told the court that the two account holders suffered no loss and there was an arrangement between the company and her to pay back the money so there was no need to make an restitution order.
Mr Monteith said that to some extent she had been punished because it had been published in the local paper and she had lost her good name, honour and dignity.
He added there were a number of aggravating features but the defendant was unlikely to be before any court again.
Deputy District Judge, Mr Liam McStay, said that she was in a position of trust and this was a serious offence.
He added that it was clearly in excess of the custody threshold but that he would deal with it by way of a suspended sentence.
The judge said the defendant had an exemplary record, had reared a family and had been doing well.
But, he went on, after a certain point her husband was of no assistance and his illness and subsequent death must have been enormous on the defendant. His gambling addiction had a ripple effect.
He accepted it was not a situation of greed. She had been living an ordinary life and the rug had been pulled from under her.
“There is no question in my mind your remorse is absolute and genuine,” he told the defendant.