A Co Tyrone woman yesterday walked free from court with a suspended prison sentence after she admitted fleecing speculators and investors in the Spanish property market out of £200,000.
Bernadette McGeary, 55, of Carntall Road, Dungannon, had pleaded guilty last month on the morning of her trial to eight counts of theft and one charge of obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception.
Prosecution counsel Frank O’Donoghue told Belfast Crown Court the money was given to her by members of her own family and also friends of her family to buy holiday homes in Spain and also to invest in the Spanish property market between March 2004 and May 2006.
One of these she took £7,000 off to invest in a property portfolio was a niece of the sisters in the Irish band The Corrs.
“She used their money as her own and the money was not used to purchase or invest in property porfolios for which the money had been provided to her,” he told Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland. “It is fair to say that none of the money has been recovered by the police.”
Mr O’Donoghue said Mairead Stewart, who is a niece of the sisters in the band The Corrs, gave McGeary £7,000 to invest with the hope of a 40 per cent return on her investment.
“Suffice to say that money also disappeared,” the prosecutor told the court.
Belfast Recorder Judge McFarland said there were a number of aggravating factors in the case which included nine victims, the theft of over £200,000, and no possibility of recovering the money or restitution.
McGeary was sentenced to two years in custody suspended for two years.