Suspended sentence for woman who stole €100,000 from Supervalu

A Meath mother who stole over €100,000 from the Supervalu where she worked as a manager has been given a three-year suspended sentence.

Celine Brennan, 43, later told gardaí her son had got into “a bit of trouble” which she only noticed after a psychic advised her to “keep a close eye” on him.

She claimed she had been approached by a man on her way to work who demanded that she hand over a certain amount of money because of her son’s troubles. She stole the cash from her employer and gave that to the man along with some of her own money.

Brennan of Coney Hall, Mornington, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two charges of stealing from Supervalu Donabate on dates between November 1 and December 31, 2010.

She had reimbursed Supervalu €23,000 before she was arrested in April 2011 and had a further €7,070 which Brennan had saved over 101 weeks from her social welfare payments.

At her sentence hearing last November defence counsel Cathal McGreal BL said Brennan, her parents and siblings are willing to come together to pay €800 per month until Supervalu are fully compensated for the thefts which is estimated will take eight years.

He said she hadn’t worked since her arrest and her home was to be re-possessed.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring said Brennan’s theft represented “a significant breach of trust” in times when businesses large and small are struggling to keep premises open and people in jobs.

Today Mr McGreal said €3,200 had now been gathered by the family and was available to the court. He said she has a job offer but had not been well enough to take it up so far.

Judge Ring imposed a three-year suspended sentence on condition Brennan continue paying €800 per month. Garda Adrian Gates told Colm O’Briain BL, prosecuting, that Brennan had responsibility for pay role and the cash office at the time of the offences.

There were two floats in the office. One was used for the shop’s ATM. The second was a working float, from which the takings from the tills would be regularly lodged by Brennan in the business’s bank account.

An audit was carried out on the shop in March 2011 but Brennan had time-locked the safes. She said she had to go home early from work that day because her brother had been taken into hospital and didn’t unlock the safes before she left.

She was told to return to work the following day to allow for the audit to be completed but although she came in early, she left again claiming to be sick. Attempts were made to contact Brennan by text but she didn’t reply.

The audit was finally carried out a couple of days later and it was immediately noticed that €106,638 was missing from the two safes.

Garda Gates said Brennan had filled out bogus lodgement forms claiming that she had lodged some of the takings in the bank. There was also a small amount taken in the form of gift vouchers. The owner of Supervalu got a call from Brennan’s solicitor that day and he was informed that she was admitting culpability.

The gardaí were alerted and Brennan was arrested in August 2011. Brennan agreed that she had taken the money but said she didn’t know exactly how much she had stolen or when she had taken it.

Brennan said she had got her son a car for his birthday and people started to use him to get lifts here and there. She only noticed he was getting into trouble after she visited a psychic who told her “to keep an eye” on him.

Garda Gates agreed with Mr McGreal that if Brennan had “sought his assistance for the reasons she gave for stealing”, he would have helped her but she never looked for it. Mr McGreal said his client had written a “lengthy” letter to the court outlining her reasons for stealing the money. This letter was not read out.

“The story is there for the court to accept or not to accept,” counsel said before he asked that it be taken into account that this was her motivation for the theft.

He said the incident had been “unprecedented” in his client’s life and is not something she will be getting herself into again.

Counsel said Brennan has expressed regret for not seeking help from the gardaí or her boss. He handed in a number of testimonials to the court, including one from a retired garda, which outlined how well thought of she is in her local community.

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