Bank employee to be sentenced for fraud today

55 years-old Colum Lewis-Canning, a former Ulster Bank accounts manager pictured having a coffee outside Derry Courthouse yesterday morning. DER5114MC061
55 years-old Colum Lewis-Canning, a former Ulster Bank accounts manager pictured having a coffee outside Derry Courthouse yesterday morning. DER5114MC061

A former accounts manager of a Derry bank is to be sentenced later today for fraud.

Colum Lewis-Canning, of Moneyrannel Road, Limavady, pleaded guilty to three charges of fraud by abuse of position between January 2008 and February 2009.

Derry Crown Court heard the 55-year-old took almost £100,000 from a clients account to invest in a property company he had set up.

The court was told Lewis-Canning first met the injured party, a businessman from Portstewart, when he worked in the Bank of Ireland in Coleraine. He was his accounts manager and when he moved to the Ulster Bank in Derry he invited the injured party to move his account.

The 55-year-old and the injured party had a ‘friendly relationship’ as well as a professional relationship and occasionally socialised together.

In October 2006, Lewis-Canning approached the injured party and invited him to invest in a company he had set up with other businessmen.

The company, called Smart Invest Limited, was involved in property development and the injured party agreed to buy £100,000 worth of shares.

The court heard Lewis-Canning wrote to the man the following year and invited him to make a further investment, however he declined.

In 2010, the injured party’s accountant noticed discrepancies in his account and there were three withdrawals worth almost £100,000 which could not be accounted for.

He phoned Lewis-Canning and he claimed the money was used for further investment in Smart Invest.

The injured party reported the matter to police.

During police interview, Lewis-Canning said he had invested the money at the injured party’s request.

It was revealed to the court that the 55-year-old has repaid £48,000 of the money.

Defence counsel Eugene Grant QC said his client has gathered a further £12,000 to repay the injured party and believes he would be able to repay the outstanding amount within six months.

He said Lewis-Canning had a ‘sparkling’ banking career for some 35 years and it came to a ‘tragic end’ as a result of this incident.

Mr Grant added Lewis-canning has ‘fallen far and it had brought enormous shame to him and his family and effectively brought him to his knees.’

Judge Philip Babington adjourned sentencing until later today. He stated the case is ‘serious’ and will have ‘important repercussions for a number of people’. Lewis-Canning was released on continuing bail.