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Portadown woman who swindled businesses out of thousands using fake credit card details spared jail

Kylie Corrigan Portadown
Kylie Corrigan walked free from court earlier this week

A Portadown mother-of-four, who swindled local businesses out of almost £10,000 of goods – paid for by credit card details obtained from the dark web – has been spared jail.

Kylie Corrigan, of Breagh Lodge, appeared in Craigavon Crown Court on Thursday, alongside her co-accused, 34-year-old Rob Abraham, from Main Street in Laurelvale, and 33-year-old Louise Burns, of Lisnisky Crescent in Portadown.

Corrigan – who runs her own business in Lurgan – used stolen credit card details to purchase goods from various electrical and furniture stores on dates between January and April 2020.

The 36-year-old enlisted the help of Abraham who was involved in the collection and delivery of the some of the goods, which included furniture, a TV and large kitchen items.

It was only after the collection of these goods did the businesses become aware of the fraud, having been contacted by the credit card companies and made aware that the financial loss would fall at their door.

As a result, the victims contacted police, who in turn carried out their investigation, leading them to the three defendants.

In May 2020, officers carried out search of Corrigan’s then home in Richhill.

Crown prosector, Ian Tannahill, told the court that the number of items seized during this search was so vast that it “almost appeared that the house was furnished” by Corrigan’s ill-gotten gains, adding that “the number of items seized during the search were so great police had to order a removal van”.

Large items of furniture, a cooker, a fridge freezer, a dishwasher, a 50-inch TV were among a “multiplicity of items that were removed from [the defendant’s] home”.

In interview, Corrigan claimed to have been gifted these items by a male, who was known to her as ‘Black Dave’.

On the same day, Abraham’s home was searched; a laptop and mobile phones were taken away for examination.

When detectives examined Abraham’s phone they found messages being exchanged between all three defendants in which they “discussed the conduct of the frauds and the acquisition of fraudulent credit card details on the dark web”.

Mr Tannahill explained that Corrigan was carrying out a series of frauds and that Abraham was helping her out as a driver before “he becomes interested in how this is being done”.

As a result, “he and Burns attempt to set up on their own”. However, the pair were arrested before they were able to carry our any fraud.

During the course of their investigation, police became aware of other victims including the Lough Erne Resort, whereby £1,500 in vouchers were obtained, and a bicycle shop where it was heard “the owner of the bike shop had given up hope” of ever seeing the bikes again.

Abraham’s defence barrister, Ian Turkington, offered the judge a number of character references for his client who, he stated, was involved in charitable work and drew attention to a character reference from Abraham’s pastor, alluding to his client’s “heavy involvement in the local church”.

Mr Turkington said his client, during police interview, stated he “was suspicious [of Corrigan’s actions] at the outset, so he was aware what he was doing wrong…,” however, “he then attempted to mimic the fraud with Miss Burns”.

In mitigation, Mr Turkington contended that Abraham will “have to live with [being a convicted criminal], not only in the local community, but also within the church, where he plays a significant role”.

Aaron Thompson, defending Corrigan, argued that “the genesis of this crime” – the ability to be able to source stolen credit card details from the dark web – had stemmed from her ex-partner upon his released from prison.

Mr Thompson said Corrigan was in a “coercively, controlling relationship” at that time, where she was beaten, had her nose broken, kicked on the ground and strangled.

He said that his client’s offending was bookended by two serious assaults involving her ex-partner and a pre-sentence reported attested to Corrigan’s “propensity to be compliant” given that “her then partner presented a clear threat to her and it was reasonable for her to fear his actions if she did not comply”.

Mr Thompson addressed a “further complication” in that her current husband, 35-year-old Stevie-Lee Watson, faces an uncertain future given that his non-jury trial for the 2019 murder of drug baron Malcolm McKeown ends next week.

“He has maintained his innocence,” said Mr Thompson, “however, if things go badly for him in September (when a Diplock judge decides whether he is guilty or not) he would be imprisoned for life”.

“It’s a very, very strong family unit and it will be inevitably fractured by this if the worst comes to pass.”

The court also heard how Corrigan had, of her own accord, lodged £3,000 with her solicitor to partially re-pay the victims on top of £1,000 that had been seized by police.

In passing sentence, His Honour Judge Patrick Lynch KC, addressed Burns first: “You were hoping to take advantage of the methodology devised by Miss Corrigan; fortunately you weren’t able to put that into effect, nonetheless dishonest intent was there.”

She was sentenced to 30 months on probation.

Turning to Abraham, Judge Lynch continued: “You were clearly a full and willing participant in this particular endeavour….it’s a shame you should find yourself coming to the temptation of easy money by involving yourself in a criminal enterprise…given your value to the local community, particularly within the Christian community. You are now a convicted criminal and that will last the rest of your life.”

Abraham was given a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for three years, and ordered to pay back £2,000.

Judge Lynch described Corrigan as “the most deeply involved”.

“You clearly are a dishonest person and you succumbed to the temptation of getting goods without having to pay for them,” he said.

“I accept there was a pressure behind you in relation to these matters but nonetheless this was inexcusable and there was a clear degree of sophistication about the commission of these offences.

“I take into account your guilty plea and that you have shown the requisite remorse in the fact you are prepared to put a sum of money in the hands of your solicitor to pay your victims back. That shows genuine remorse.”

Corrigan was handed a two year prison term, suspended for three years, and ordered to pay back £4,000.

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