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Portadown man who swindled more than £46,000 from employer avoids jail

Stephen Byrne Portadown

A Portadown man who swindled more than £46,000 from his employer has avoided jail.

Van salesman Stephen Byrne, who stole just over £46,000 from Beggs and Partners plumbers merchants, was given at two-year jail sentence, suspended for three years.

Byrne, from Markville, Portadown, admitted a single count of theft from Beggs and Partners. He stole £46,131 from January 2017 to January 2020.

Craigavon Crown Court heard that Byrne had sold his matrimonial home to repay the cash he had taken from Beggs and Partners.

Judge Lynch outlined how the 49-year-old had been a van sales/delivery man for the plumbers merchants when a customer highlighted suspicious activity in his account. This triggered an internal audit which uncovered the fraud.

Byrne confessed to the managing director that he had been taking money to fund a gambling addiction.

During a meeting with the owner in November 2019, Byrne “was tearful and confirmed that the figures were accurate”. He resigned in January 2020.

Judge Lynch said that since the offences came to light, Byrne has been able to halt his gambling addiction and expressed his “shame, embarrassment, remorse and regret” over the offending.

The judge said the thefts were a significant breach of trust, and while Byrne was in a position to fully repay the money, “one cannot buy one’s way out of serious criminal activity, but nevertheless that’s a factor the court must take into account”.

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