A court has heard a post office manager took €1.75m to feed his gambling habit, which included putting a bet of €40,000 on a game involving the Norwegian women’s soccer team.
Tony O’Reilly, a 37-year-old from Carlow town, has pleaded guilty to 14 charges of theft and falsifying accounts when he was branch manager of the post office in Gorey, Co Wexford.
The incidents went on for a year-and-a-half and only came to light in June of last year when a regional audit was being done.
Wexford Circuit Court heard O’Reilly had developed a chronic gambling problem and had an account called “Tony 10” with Paddy Power bookmakers.
When the account was examined, it was found that over the period of time it had had a turnover of €10m, with €8.3m in winnings and €1.7m in losses.
Detective Ian Hayes of Gorey Garda Station told the court that O’Reilly said the theft started at the post office by sometimes taking a bag of coins from a larger bag, which then was not checked. If it contained €2 coins, he would replace it with a bag of two cent coins so as not to highlight the weight difference.
In April 2010, O’Reilly had taken around €8,000, which increased over the months to €60,000 and by the end of the year he had taken €290,000.
To cover himself during an audit, he brought an accountable receipt for €97,538 into the toilet with him at work and changed it to €397,538, thus concealing the misappropriation.
During the following six months he lost the run of himself, the court heard, and was involved in sporadic, random and worldwide bets, including betting €40,000 on the outcome of a match involving the Norwegian women’s soccer team.
His method of taking money out of the post office included removing €50 notes with a pliers from the middle of a bundle of notes containing €50,000.
Gardaí said O’Reilly, who is married with one child and lives in Carlow, co-operated at all times with them.
He joined An Post in 1998 and worked for a time in Tallaght before returning to Carlow. He was appointed manager in Gorey in 2009.
O'Reilly was known as 'The Golden Child' in An Post because he was so young when appointed manager.
His defence counsel said he did not benefit at all from the money, adding that he still lives in an ordinary, small house and that Paddy Power bookmakers had viewed him as a highly-valued customer, even bringing him on all-expenses trips to the Europa League final in Dublin and the Irish Derby race meeting.
The defence counsel also said alarm bells should have gone off with the bookmakers.
The court heard O’Reilly has given up gambling completely, has attended courses at addiction centres, wants to become an addiction counsellor and has co-operated fully with gardaí.
Sentencing will continue at 11am tomorrow. O’Reilly was remanded in custody overnight.