Worker admits defrauding Stormont department of £10k

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A west Belfast woman on Friday pleaded guilty to defrauding her Department of Social Development (DSD) employers out of £10,000.

Christine Quinn, 34, of Ramoan Gardens, off the Glen Road, appeared in the dock of Belfast Crown Court for an arraignment hearing.

The married woman pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by abuse of her position on October 7, 2010 and on March 22, 2011, by making false benefit payments to her mother Margaret Leckey totalling £10,000.

She pleaded not guilty to two further counts of copying a false instrument with intent to make the payments to her mother between August 26, 2010 and October 8, 2010.

Prosecution lawyer Rosemary Walsh said that as a result of her guilty pleas to fraud by abuse of position, the Crown were asking for the two further offences of copying a false instrument to be “left on the books and not to be proceeded without leave of the Crown Court or the Court of Appeal”.

Ms Walsh told Deputy Belfast Recorder Judge Corinne Philpott QC that Quinn worked for the DSD at the time the offences were committed.

The court heard that due to her position within DSD she “submitted false applications and false claims on behalf of her mother and her husband”.

She added that a total of £10,000 had paid into her mother’s bank account but were subsequently transferred into a joint account Quinn held with her husband.

“She said at interview that the money was to help out her mother but all the money was transferred into her bank account,” explained Ms Walsh.

“She also submitted false claims on behalf of her husband but this had been stopped in time and no money was paid out. This had the potential loss of £25,000.”

A defence barrister said that as yet none of the £10,000 had been repaid to her employers.

Judge Philpott QC told the court: “This is a breach of trust by an employee. Stealing for a family member does not make it any better, even for a family member who is in need of help.

“I will expect money to be paid. They better make a proper effort to get this money back. I will take any restitution in the defendant’s favour before I pass sentence.”

The judge adjourned sentencing until October 3 to allow for the preparation of a pre-sentence report.

The Deputy Belfast Recorder warned Quinn: “Do not commit any criminal offences when you are trying to get this money back.”