A swindling accountant who stole more than £50,000 to feed her ravenous gambling addiction wept in court yesterday as she was jailed for six months.
As well as the jail term, 34-year-old Lisa Carville was ordered to spend a further year on licence by Downpatrick Crown Court Judge David Smyth QC, who told the fraudster that despite “strong personal mitigation” he had a duty to pass a deterrent sentence given her breach of the trust placed in her by her employers.
Carville, from Drumaness in Ballynahinch, had admitted 18 charges of fraud by abuse of position and one of forgery with all the offences dates between March 2010 and September 2012
A previous court heard that while Carville was working as a chartered accountant for Peter O’Hare in her hometown, she took the cash from the tax accounts of at least 18 separate clients, using the money for online bingo and gambling websites.
Prosecuting lawyer Sam Magee had outlined how, as part of her work as a chartered accountant, Carville was able to see the account balances the various clients had with the HMRC and that essentially, she used any money which was surplus to either gamble or to “top up” monies she had already used.
The fraud fell apart, however, when the tax office contacted a client in September last year to query a cheque which Carville had made out to herself and he in turn contacted the offices of Mr O’Hare who were “entirely innocent” in the whole scam.
When she was asked about it Carville, who started working for the firm when she was 19 and worked her way up to the height of chartered accountant, went home claiming illness and did not go back to the office.
Two weeks after her frauds were uncovered, Carville took an overdose in a suicide attempt but when she recovered, police questioned her and she made “full and frank admissions”.
Defence barrister Joel Lindsay produced documentary evidence yesterday which showed that Carville first started gambling in June 2006, adding that while it started with small amounts, “it increased and increased and increased until where it was a large amount of money.”
He also revealed that Carville is being pursued through the civil courts for the money she took.
Judge Smyth told Carville he accepted her addiction had pre-existed the series of sophisticated frauds and that although he had considered suspending her jail term, to do so “is not in the public interest”.
He said that her employers “must have been astonished” at her fraudulent behaviour as she had been a trusted employee since she was a teenager and had worked her way up the firm.”
The judge added, however, that “by your actions you have set all this back to nought – you have lost your job and will no doubt lose your profession”.
Judge Smyth said it was to her credit that she had pleaded guilty, had a clear record and had paid back £5,000 with a promise to pay more in the future and had began to tackle her addiction.
While confiscation proceedings were postponed, Mr Magee conceded that it was unlikely there would be any more realisable assets.