School secretary found not guilty of deception

Tuesday 19 February 2013 18.24
School secretary found not guilty of deception

A former secretary at Summerhill College in Sligo who was charged with deception has been found not guilty by direction of the trial judge.

Edel Byron, 40, of Ashbrook, Collooney, Co Sligo had pleaded not guilty to the charge of deceiving the Department of Education out of more than €24,000 through an online claims system.

A former supervisor at the college, John Fintan Brett, 67, of Cleveragh Road in Sligo pleaded guilty to the same charge and is to be sentenced next month.

He admitted the charge, which related to making false claims for substitute teaching hours between March 2008 and June 2009 when he was working as a supervisor in the boys secondary school.

This afternoon, following legal argument, Judge Ray Fulham directed that Ms Byron be found not guilty of the charge.

The court had been told that Ms Byron, who was a personal assistant to the former principal of the college, Michael Murphy, had not gained financially from inputting the claims.

Dismissing the case against her, Judge Fulham referred to evidence given by a Department of Education payroll witness, Padraig O'Malley, who said Ms Byron had been following the directions of Mr Murphy in submitting payments for Mr Brett.

Mr O'Malley, he said, had stated in evidence that the work claimed for was done by Mr Brett and that when he was asked if the department was at any financial loss as a result of the claim, he had replied "No".

Ms Byron cried when the judge told her she was free to go and her solicitor said it had been a very traumatic experience for her client and she now wanted to move on with her life.