A credit controller who stole almost €1.7 million from the Dublin credit union where he worked by taking out bogus loans and stealing cheques has been jailed for three years.

Paul O'Brien, 51, who worked at Finglas Credit Union, took out additional fraudulent loans in order to make repayments on the pre-existing ones.

The money was used to fund his severe gambling addiction, as well as paying his mortgage and credit card bills.

Garda Lisa Sheehan confirmed that the total amount taken from the credit union was €1,669,696 in the form of 215 fraudulent loans and 13 stolen cheques over a seven-year period, however because he used some of the cash to make repayments on the loans, the total net loss to the credit union was €453,300.

O'Brien, of O'Valley Park Road, Finglas, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sample charges which included nine counts of stealing various amounts of cash from Finglas Credit Union and one charge of falsifying a loan application in the amount of €17,000 on dates between 26 February, 2005 and 12 May, 2012.

The married father of three has no previous convictions and a number of documents were handed in to court to confirm that he had a severe gambling problem at the time.

His lawyers had argued that his addiction was so serious that he could not help himself from stealing the money.

He has since sought help for his addiction and has not come to any further garda attention. O'Brien has been out of work since his crimes came to light.

Judge Martin Nolan said O'Brien was a very good family man and a good member of society who is unlikely to re-offend. He said he has no other criminal record whatsoever but that the extent of his offending meant he must be jailed.

Judge Nolan said: "He is a very good man who went completely astray." He said O'Brien's position of trust and his abuse of that power were aggravating factors.