The usual pitiful “punishment” women can reliably expect. A piece in today’s Times:
A woman who stole more than €20,000 from her company social club and work credit card to spend on luxury holidays and shopping trips has been jailed for six months.
Nicola Henry, 32, was secretary of the Johnson & Johnson social club when she forged colleagues’ signatures and wrote 37 cheques to herself.
She received €17,326 from 27 cheques, which she spent on holidays to Australia, Sri Lanka and Dubai, as well as meals at restaurants, shopping trips, including one to Northern Ireland and beauty treatments, Dublin circuit criminal court was told. The other ten cheques bounced as there was not enough money in the account.
Henry, an office manager with Johnson & Johnson in Tallaght, Dublin, was suspended when the thefts came to light. Detective Garda Kevin Bowen said she went on to spend a further €3,233 using the company credit card.
After she was charged Henry “buried her head in the sand” and missed several court appearances, leading to warrants being issued for her arrest, defence counsel said. She was arrested in November last year and placed in custody.
Sentencing her yesterday, Judge Pauline Codd said she accepted Henry’s thefts were a result of her ongoing depression and there was a “method of escapism in dealing with that”. She also took into account a psychological report which found Henry was at a low risk of re-offending and would benefit from therapy.
The judge imposed a two-year sentence but suspended the final 18 months on a number of conditions. She backdated it to last November, when Henry went into custody.
Henry, of Carrownegh, Kiltoom, Co Roscommon, pleaded guilty to three counts of theft and two counts of attempted theft from Johnson & Johnson social club and company between April 2014 and September 2015. She also pleaded guilty to two counts of making a false instrument between those dates. A further 65 counts on the indictment were taken into consideration. Henry has no previous convictions.
Bowen said Henry joined Johnson & Johnson in 2011 as an accounts assistant and went on to have several different roles within the company, including office manager. She joined the social club in 2012 and became its secretary.
Employees who were members of the social club paid a contribution from their salaries every month for social gatherings, with the company regularly adding funds.
Although Henry was on the club committee and had a cheque book she did not have authorisation to sign cheques on behalf of the club. She forged the signatures of two of her colleagues who were authorised to do this and cashed cheques which she made out to herself.
Ten of the 37 cheques — with a value of €35,340 — bounced. Henry’s offending came to light when the bank contacted the company controller about the bounced cheques in August 2015.
She was immediately suspended and her company credit card s blocked. However, the company noticed in November of that year that further sums had been spent using the blocked card It emerged the bank had contacted Henry about the card being blocked and she authorised them to unblock it before continuing to spend company money, the court was told.
Bowen said Henry did not spend any money on day-to-day expenses: “It was all luxury items.”
Kieran Kelly BL, for Henry, said his client had a normal upbringing, a good education and came from a good family. Her mother became ill with cancer when she was a teenager and Henry took on a caring role in the home. She suffered from depression in the wake of her mother’s death in 2008.
Kelly said his client, who was tearful during the sentence hearing, was extremely remorseful for her actions. He said she had taken on a number of accounting roles since the incident but had been let go when her offending in Johnson & Johnson came to light. She was unable to repay any of the money she stole, he said.
Kelly said his client is a very private person. “She has buried her head in the sand very much in relation to this matter,” he said. “She is a person who should follow through on counselling available to her.”
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