A FORMER GAA club treasurer has been jailed for a year for stealing almost 100,000 from the club’s weekly lotto.
Patricia Carroll (49), from Chapel Street, Kilfinane, Co Limerick, has until next Tuesday to get her affairs in order before she presents herself to Limerick Prison by 5pm.
Ms Carroll had to sell her mother’s home in a bid to repay the 98,316 she stole from Blackrock GAA club between October 2005 and March 2007.
The Limerick club were only repaid 58,985 from the sale of the Carroll’s terraced family home in Kilfinane.
Addressing the guilty woman in Limerick Circuit Criminal Court yesterday, Judge Carroll Moran said the club was left with a deficit of almost 40,000 and was only recompensed with 60pc of their loss.
Ms Carroll, an unemployed single mother with a 23-year-old daughter, admitted to 19 charges of forging cheques to the value of 34,773 and stealing 63,543 from Blackrock GAA club’s weekly lotto.
Shortly after the prison sentence was handed down, Ms Carroll broke down in tears in Limerick courthouse.
Judge Moran said the jail term was as lenient as he could be. He allowed her until next Tuesday to get her affairs in order before the sentence begins.
Judge Moran said: “Ms Carroll was in a position of trust within her own community and betrayed that trust in a very serious way”. The judge noted that she had no previous convictions and was otherwise a person of good character.
Judge Moran added that to the credit of the GAA club’s officers and members, they expressed a wish that Ms Carroll did not go to prison. He described the position of the club as “very charitable and commendable”.
Before passing sentence, Judge Moran said the offences committed went “to the very heart of the proper running of a social club in a local community”.
Defence counsel Mark Nicholas said what his client had done was terrible. Mr Nicholas said Ms Carroll’s only asset was her house from her mother, Helen, and that she had no other means. The court heard she dropped the price of the home to facilitate a quick sale. Mr Nicholas said the way in which the former GAA treasurer had been frosted out of her community since she admitted the crimes was “almost biblical”.
“The media coverage is causing terrible anxiety to her. With a heavy hand on heart, this is all she has to offer,” he said.
Previous sittings of the case heard that the club’s balance sheets had been altered by the guilty party to cover her tracks. While Ms Carroll was not attending the lotto draws, she insisted that the money be dropped into her home so it could be lodged in her account.
The GAA club learned their finances were not in order in 2007, when a man who sanded their GAA field was left with an outstanding bill of 7,780, while Limerick dog track received a cheque for 3,200 which bounced.
Ms Carroll’s father was a well-respected member of Blackrock GAA club and also served on Limerick’s south GAA board.
The money stolen was to be used for new club facilities including a second field, covered stand and dugouts.
The club boasts a thriving underage set-up while they also have a junior men’s hurling team.
- Barry Duggan