Five years after a woman was first arrested for defrauding her employers out of almost £2 million, details of her vast offending have finally been disclosed at Dungannon Crown Court following repeated delays. 

Throughout the duration of the case Press have been banned from naming her, based on her continued threat to self-harm if identified. This has now been extended to concerns around imprisonment, leading the defence to seek Judge Brain Sherrard QC to impose a Hospital Order.

From County Tyrone, the woman was present on Thursday to hear the litany of offending she carried out over an eight year period.

Prosecution counsel Charles McCreanor QC told the court this involved 26 counts of fraud and money laundering totalling some £1.9 million. It was established the defendant significantly breached the trust of her Cookstown-based employers. 

Despite enjoying a good salary, she filtered cash from the company to the extent it was on the verge of collapse.

The continuous criminality totalled in the region 500-600 individual criminal transactions, by way of unauthorised withdrawals, electronic transfers, fraudulent bank statements and forging of signatures.

Figures identified expenditure was used to sustain a luxury lifestyle for the defendant in her lavish mansion set in its own grounds deep in the countryside.

Forensic examination discovered lifestyle spend of just over £141,000; general expenditure £360,000; property development £356,000; interior design £311,000; fashion and beauty £231,000 and £145,000 on jewellery.

During a previous hearing it emerged defence lawyers asked the prosecution to omit certain details from public disclosure, but this was refused.

Mr. McCreanor explained the defendant: “Made up false bank statements” and provided these to the company board and accountants, with fictitious figures.

She forged the name of a former company employee who had left after a very serious road traffic accident. Despite being instructed to take his name off the bank mandate she failed to do so, forging his signature on cheques made out to herself.

She then forged a bank mandate making her the sole authorising person in charge of finances, countersigning cheques to herself and creating false invoices

Mr. McCreanor said: “There was significant planning and repeated offending over years … An extremely lavish lifestyle was indulged upon.”

He added the defendant had personal control of the financial records, destroying all documentation on realising she had been discovered. Following arrest, she admitted the offences, claiming the funds were spent: “Just on holidays. There’s nothing to show for it.”

She expressed annoyance at the company accountants for: “Not doing their job properly. If they had, I wouldn’t be here.” Asked if she was the only person involved, she replied: “Friends and family all benefited, but they were totally unaware.”

Mr. McCreanor also disclosed the defendant approached one of the company directors and told him ‘in-confidence’ she was suffering from a rare cancer. By coincidence this was exactly the same condition a close relative of the director had endured and given the anxiety this caused, he went out of his way to provide support for the defendant as his employee.

But there was no cancer and the defendant had used a particularly sensitive issue to ensure she could continue her lifestyle by accessing vast sums without interference.

Defence lawyers accepted no funds have been repaid to date, but stressed willingness and the “principle property” – the defendant’s mansion – is on the market.

Judge Sherrard decided to adjourn sentencing to consider all material.