Woman jailed for ‘serious abuse of trust’ which almost wiped out business

Derry courthouse.
Derry courthouse.

A woman who took almost £600,000 from her employers to fund her online gambling addiction has received a three year sentence.

Tracey Curran, who took the money when she was employed as the business administrator of S3 Alliance, will serve half this sentence in custody and the remaining half on licence in the community.

The 44-year-old, of Moyola Drive, pleaded guilty to six charges of fraud by false representation between January 1, 2016 and April 24, 2017.

Derry Crown Court heard that the defendant, who had been employed by S3 Alliance since it was established in 2008, was in charge of the company’s administration and had access to the company’s credit card accounts.

The offending was uncovered when Curran was asked to provide financial reports for the company’s three directors who were considering changing their banking arrangements.

At the same time the directors had become aware payment requests from suppliers, however they thought this was an oversight on behalf of the defendant.

In April 2017, Curran admitted to her employers she had taken somewhere between £300,000 and £400,000 over an 18 month period and had used it to gamble on the website 32Red.

Curran resigned from her post and an audit carried out by accountants showed that she had taken a total of £592,915.44.

The 44-year-old was arrested and during police interview made full admissions.

The court heard that following negotiations between 32Red and S3 Alliance, which involved pressure being applied by the Gambling Commission, the gambling company reimbursed £589,585 to the victims.

Defence counsel Ciaran Mallon QC said his client did not have a lavish lifestyle and the only benefit to her was ‘perhaps an adrenaline rush’.

He also told the court Curran has been receiving counselling since May 2017 and has secured employment. The barrister added that her new employers find her to be ‘very dependable’ and believe she has seen the errors of her ways.

Passing sentence, Judge Philip Babington said the offending was aggravated ‘by its very serious abuse of trust’. “The defendant was placed in a particularly important and trustworthy position by the three owners of the company who were not only her employers but who regarded her as a friend.”

He said the court had read statements from the victims and it is “quite clear that the impact on the company and on the owners was very considerable and it is gratifying to hear that the company is now doing reasonably well.

“This does not in any way minimise the concerns, worries and work that had to be put in to save the company in the first instance which included the three directors having to re-mortgage their own homes.”

Imposing the three year sentence, Judge Babington said it is a ‘very serious case as a small company and its owners were very nearly wiped out as a result of the defendant’s offending’.