Principal who stole €44,000 from school in 'appalling breach of trust' given suspended sentence

Principal Who Stole €44,000 From School In 'Appalling Breach Of Trust' Given Suspended Sentence
Marcus Wynne (41), of Cloughanover, Headford, Co Galway, leaving Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday. Photo: Collins Courts
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Isabel Hayes

A national school principal who stole more than €44,000 from his school over a three-year period in an “appalling breach of trust” has been given a suspended three year sentence.

Marcus Wynne (41) broke down in tears in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday when Judge Martin Nolan ruled that although he had let his former school community down, he did not deserve a custodial sentence.


The judge ordered Wynne to give €30,000 that he has saved over to Grace Park Educate Together immediately, and gave him a period of two years to save up the remaining €14,370 that he owes.

“People trusted you,” Judge Nolan told Wynne. “You let them down. You should be properly ashamed of yourself.”

The court heard Wynne was appointed principal of Grace Park Educate Together National School in Drumcondra, Dublin 9, in 2016 when it was first established.

Forged documents

Between August 2016 and January 2019, Wynne stole €44,370 in 430 transactions, before going on to spend the money on “day-to-day expenses” including groceries, fuel, hotels, jewellery, clothing, taxis, holidays and restaurants, Detective Garda Shay Woods told the court.


He forged invoices to account for the missing money, including regular invoices for rent to ChildVision, the national education centre for blind children, where the Educate Together school was housed for two years. The rent for ChildVision was paid by the Department of Education, the court heard.

Wynne, with an address at Cloughanover, Headford, Co Galway, pleaded guilty to nine counts of theft and eight counts of producing a false instrument at various locations in Dublin and Galway between 2016 and 2019. He has no previous convictions.

Det Gda Woods told the court the fraud came to light when Wynne went on sick leave in January 2019 and the school administrator and a teacher discovered fraudulent documentation in his desk.

The court heard Wynne and the school administrator had access to the school bank account but he was the only one who was authorised to withdraw money. He used the school bank card to withdraw cash and to pay for purchases, the court was told.


In the wake of the discovery of the forged documents, an internal investigation took place and the school board of management then reported the theft to gardaí.

Wynne went on sick leave from the school in February 2019 and formally resigned in October 2020, the court heard.

He was arrested and interviewed in April 2021, telling gardaí that the “guilt and shame” of what he had done was difficult to bear.

He apologised to the school board of management for the “hurt, pain and stress” he had caused.


Prior to his crimes coming to light, Wynne had been highly regarded in the school and his colleagues were full of praise for him, Det Gda Woods said. Many of the staff considered him to be a friend and were “very upset” when they found out what he had done.

'Sincere remorse and regret'

Brian Gageby BL, defending, said Wynne has “sincere remorse and regret” for his actions. He is currently working five nights a week in a factory and has saved up €30,000 to repay to the school.

If he was not imprisoned, he would continue to save and repay the school in full, counsel said.

The court heard Wynne was “extremely vulnerable” at the time of the offending and was struggling with alcohol, prescription tablets and gambling addictions. He has since spent time in rehab.


Mr Gageby said his client is likely to be struck off the register of teachers and has lost his career. He submitted his offending was “an appalling breach of trust” but was not done out of “avarice or malevolence”.

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“He had a lot of issues,” defence counsel said.

Judge Nolan accepted that Wynne had addiction issues at the time and he noted he has lost his respected position as a school principal.

“His chances of ever teaching again are very limited,” the judge said.

He said there was excellent mitigation in the case, including that Wynne had taken work in a factory to save up money to return to the school. The judge said while the amount of money stolen was “serious”, it was “not at the extreme end”.

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