A 40-year-old businessman who admitted stealing almost €124,000 from Cork City Council to fund a lavish lifestyle has been sentenced to four years in prison, with the final year suspended.

Judge Patrick Moran told Karl McCaughley, from Ballinspittle in Co Cork, that he did what he did to fund his penchant for expensive cars.

The judge said however, that while we all like expensive cars, we have to live within our means.

McCaughley, a married father of three young children and who is originally from Dundalk, had pleaded guilty to 28 counts of deception, forgery and theft at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

The court heard that McCaughley took the money when he was employed as an agent for Cork City Council distributing parking discs and bin tags and collecting payments from retailers.

Following a substantial investigation in 2009, detectives from the Fraud Squad based at Anglsea Street discovered that McCaughley was siphoning off payments from the retailers and lodging them to his own account.

In some instances, McCaughley asked retailers to make cheques payable to his own company. In other instances he altered cheques that had been made out to the council and made them payable to himself.

The court was told that total loss to the council was €123,983 and that McCaughley had repaid €25,800 in the past few days.

During a previous court sitting, the judge heard evidence that McCaughley enjoyed a very affluent lifestyle and liked to drive expensive cars.

When gardaí searched his home in 2009, they found two Porche cars, one Mercedes vehicle and a Land Rover, for which he was paying out between €5,000 and €6,000 per month in lease agreements.

McCaughley said he did not drink or smoke and cars were his passion and his "only vice".

He "100% apologised" and said he wanted to repay the council in full.

Judge Moran sentenced McCaughley to four years in prison, suspending the final year and refused leave to appeal.