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Childminder stole employer’s bank card and made contactless payments

Defendant's actions 'unsophisticated offence motivated by financial anxiety'

A Hamiltonsbawn childminder who stole her employer’s bank card has been given an absolute discharge.

Cherith Douglas, of Weavers Lodge, pleaded guilty to theft and three counts of false representation at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

It was heard the injured party employed the 32-year-old as a childminder for his three children in September of last year, with the defendant having access to his home while he was at work.

In November of last year, he lost his bank card and contacted the First Trust Bank.

The bank told him that three payments had been made from the card since the date it had gone missing – one for £4.99 at McDonald’s at Meadow Lane in Portadown, another for £30 at Toymaster and the final for £20 at a Tesco filling station.

The prosecution told the court that all of these had been made through contactless payment.

Douglas was arrested and taken to Banbridge police station for questioning.

During interview, she accepted being at those places at those times, but denied using the card.

Defence counsel stated this had been an “unsophisticated offence motivated by financial anxiety”.

The court was informed that at the time of the offences Douglas had one child and one on the way and that this, according to defence counsel, had left her worried, especially as Christmas was approaching.

It was further argued by the defence that Douglas’ mental state had “contributed to her actions” and that she had been left “embarrassed by her behaviour”.

District Judge Paul Copeland commented: “Your culpability is at the lowest scale, but you breached the trust of a man that let you into his home.”

He added: “These actions were impulsive and ill-judged.”

Douglas was handed an absolute discharge and was ordered to pay £54.99 by way of compensation to the injured party within four weeks.

Judge Copeland told defendant he hoped this “aberration is one which will never be repeated”.

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