A letting agent who stole nearly €70,000 in tenant deposits from his employer over a two-year period to fund his gambling addiction has received a fully suspended sentence.
Richard Power (35) regularly logged into the system of his letting agent employer and changed the bank account details of tenants who had paid deposits at the start of their lease and were due a refund, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.
Power changed the tenant's bank details to his own personal bank account details in order to receive the refunded deposit, Garda Dabhach Dineen told Diana Stuart BL, prosecuting. He then switched the account details back before anyone noticed.
Power, with an address in Tudor Lawns, Foxrock, Dublin, pleaded guilty to one count of stealing from his employer, Wyse Property Management Ltd, on dates between June 2018 and June 2020. The amount he stole came to €69,530, the court heard. He has no previous convictions.
Passing sentence on Monday, Judge Elma Sheahan noted that Power has now paid back all but approximately €7,500 of the stolen funds through a combination of his own savings and money from his parents.
The judge said the fact that he was suffering from a gambling addiction does not excuse the offending, but it does put it in context. She said she had no doubt he has learnt a valuable lesson and paid a price for what he has done.
Judge Sheahan sentenced Power to three years imprisonment, but suspended the sentence in its entirety on strict conditions, including that he pay back the outstanding amount within six months.
At a previous sentencing hearing, Garda Dineen said Power was employed as a letting negotiation manager by the company for four years. His duties included viewing and inspecting properties, drawing up leases and liaising with tenants. He had 75-80 properties in his portfolio.
In May 2020, his supervisor became aware of tenants who were waiting for a deposit refund and who had not been able to get in touch with Power. When the supervisor discovered there was no deposit being held for the tenants, an audit was ordered for all of Power's properties.
A number of anomalies were uncovered and Power was called in for a meeting. He admitted he had been manipulating accounts and stealing money from the company to fund a gambling addiction. He said he was undergoing counselling for this addiction.
Shortly afterwards, Power refunded his employer €10,000, the court heard. He is currently unemployed, lives in a property belonging to his parents and is on the pandemic unemployment payment.
He has since lost his property management licence and was fined €5,000.
Dean Kelly SC, defending, said Power cooperated fully with gardaí when they interviewed him about the theft. He told them: “I just want to tell the truth.”
Mr Kelly said Power was gambling “constantly” with friends, as is often common among young men in their twenties and thirties.
“No sport was watched, no company was kept without gambling playing a part of that,” Mr Kelly said. Power also racked up debts playing card games, the court heard.
Mr Kelly said Power has suffered with mental health issues and is continuing his rehabilitation process. He is unlikely to reoffend, the court heard.