A mother of four who swindled over £7,000 from her former employer in Banbridge has been given until 1 May to make restitution or face the very real prospect of a jail term.
Joanne Bryson (40) from Dernaroy Road, Killeavey Newry appeared for sentencing at last week’s local Banbridge Magistrates Court.
The court heard how on dates unknown between 4 February 2010 and 11 February 2010 she dishonestly abused her position by fraudulently cashing cheques resulting in a total loss of £7,524.38 to her former boss Mr Tony Pinion of TT Travel.
During police interview she admitted cashing the cheques and said that at the time she had money in other accounts but this was not forthcoming.
Her solicitor Mr Tierney said Bryson was a single parent of four young children who was receiving benefits of £1,200 per month.
“After her outgoings, she has very little left and has downsized her home within the last week . This frees up £130 per month to repay Mr Pinion. She accepts she owes him money and apologises to him and wants to pay it back.”
Mr Tierney said medical evidence had been provided explaining his client’s mental state including the fact she suffered from depression.
Mr Tierney claimed that the injured party Mr Pinion has stated he visited Bryson in hospital after a failed suicide attempt.
He described his client as a “very vulnerable person.” He said she had no money and no savings but was “fully prepared to pay it back.”
Mr Tierney told the court Bryson’s level of sophistication was very poor, writing cheques in her own name meaning she was “bound to be detected.”
“She has a completely clear record and not the sort of person normally appearing before court.
“She comes from a good hard working family. A custodial sentence would have a serious impact on her young children.”
District Judge Mr Copeland said he was “unimpressed given her resourcefulness and accounting skills” as she had “done nothing to make any contribution.”
He said he wanted to adjourn sentencing of the matter warning her she faced up to 12 months in prison. He stressed there were significant aggravating factors which carried consequences particularly for the victim.
“I am not satisfied she is meeting this as appropriately as she could or those associated with her and I will adjourn until 1 May.”