A FORMER Mayo County Council employee who defrauded the local authority over a six-year period was given a four-year suspended jail sentence yesterday. Father of two, Tom Gilboy, of Mount Gregory, Castlebar, pleaded guilty to 117 charges of defrauding the council of €43,225.66 on certain dates from 2002 until 2008. He was charged under Sections 4 and 25 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001.
Det Garda Ed McLoughlin said at a sitting of Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court that the accused had forged the signatures of five council employees on 64 separate claim sheets and had also falsely claimed travel expenses. Judge Tony Hunt was told that Mr Gilboy worked as an Estimator in the Architects’ office.
Counsel for the Prosecution, James Dwyer said the fraud came to light after Ms Geeta Keena, a senior architect and line manager, conducted a general review of expenses and noticed some anomalies. This drew attention to the fact that, with reference Mr Gilboy, 95 per cent of his work was office-based.
She then arranged a meeting with the accused on December 14, 2009, when Mr Gilboy immediately acknowledged his wrongdoing. After the majority of his expense sheets were recovered he identified which trips had been made and which claims were forged.
It also emerged that while recovering Mr Gilboy’s diaries from his desk, shredded papers were discovered showing his practice copies of false signatures.
The court was told that Mr Gilboy said he started defrauding the council because his wife was upset over a personal matter and he wanted to cheer her up. He also conceded he was living beyond his means. It emerged that he only stopped the fraud after the council introduced a new structure, which involved two signatories on expense sheets.
The council reported the matter to the gardaí on December 27, 2009, and he was dismissed in late January 2010.
Out of character
Det Garda McLoughlin, who arrested Gilboy at his home on March 20, 2010, said he knew the accused and his actions were ‘totally out of character’.
Defense counsel, Francis Comerford said his client was now unemployed and looked after his 95-year-old father and his mountain sheep farm while his wife was the sole breadwinner in the family. The couple have two children aged aged 15 and six.
He said his client had since made a full repayment of the monies to Mayo County Council. Judge Hunt observed that this was a significant mitigating factor and noted that, from anecdotal evidence in the media, there were much bigger fish who had not made such restitution. He remarked that such offenders were not as frank or forthcoming.
The judge said that Mr Gilboy had got away with his fraud for a long period of time and ‘he no doubt hoped the lack of vigilance would continue’ but that his ‘abuse of trust’ had brought odium and punishment to his wife and children.
Judge Hunt imposed a four-year suspended jail sentence and, subject to his suitability, a Community Service order.