A Sligo mother-of-three who stole a total €271,000 from elderly and vulnerable people has been jailed for eleven months at Sligo Circuit Court.

46-year-old former EBS employee Maeve Diamond, from Main Street, Ballintogher, Co Sligo, targeted the elderly's life savings in the EBS branch in Grattan Street, Sligo, where she worked as a financial adviser.

The defendant has not paid back a penny, the court heard.

The EBS has compensated all the victims.

Her victims said she had abused her position as a financial adviser and a "trusted employee." 

When asked where the money went, Diamond said it was spent on "life and her family."

"It was primarily to spoil the children, they got the best of everything," she said.

She said the day she walked into the garda station to confess to her crimes was a life savier and she did not know how to stop the stealing.

Diamond admitted stealing €271,000 from ten bank accounts on dates between 2011 and 2016.

She also pleaded guilty to ten counts of making a false instrument, to forge a signature on withdrawal slips from the accounts.

A further 63 counts were taken into consideration.

In jailing the weeping mother-of-three, Judge Francis Comerford said her crime "was a calculated dishonesty, creating false instruments in a deliberate and sustained dishonesty across a period of time."

The judge said it was a "serious crime of great cunning but not a sophisticated or any way clever crime and it was a self- destructive crime."

In doing so, she had betrayed her colleagues, her employers and the customers of EBS who had placed their trust in her.

The judge added that he believed that her troubled childhood had led her "into a pattern of criminality, it brought her to a path of dishonesty motivated primarily by an almost compulsive need to get benefits for her children."  

The court was told the fraud was discovered on 15 July 2016 when one of her victims, Roisin Curneen, discovered that €90,000 of her and her husband's life's savings had gone missing from her account in the EBS, Grattan Street.

The court was told that in 2013, 80-year-old James Ferguson found that €12,949 had gone missing from his account.

Diamond told him the money would be returned to his account and she told him she was afraid she would lose her job.

Mr Ferguson said he felt sorry for her.

The court was told that Diamond moved money between various accounts to cover her tracks.

The court heard that Diamond took the money from customers' savings accounts without their knowledge - accounts that were not being monitored by customers or ones that customers did not want statements from. 

When her crimes were discovered, Diamond left her work and admitted her crime to gardaí.

She told gardaí she was "flabbergasted" when told of the amount she had stolen and had "nothing to show for it."

Diamond, who suffers from fybromyalgia, told Judge Comerford that she and her husband drove old cars, did not go on fancy holidays and she probably spent the money on spoiling her children.

Defence Counsel Des Dockery told the court her children had every facility going and she was determined they would have all facilities including music lessons, classical singing lessons, Irish dancing and swimming lessons.

Expenses were incurred with attending Feis competitions and doctor and consultant bills for herself.

The court heard she would make withdrawals of €2,000 and €3,000 which were not for any set purpose.

"It was primarily to spoil the children, they got the best of everything, what I thought they needed, birthdays, Christmas and expensive hobbies," Diamond told the court.

She also told the court she knew some day she would be found out and said it was like she was "compelled" to do it.

Judge Comerford said he accepted that the money was not used to buy assets or salted away.
It was a "deluded" crime.

In addition to her 11 months sentence, Diamond was ordered to enter into a bond of €100 to keep the peace for two years on her release.

The judge said she "had strayed from the path but could come back to it."

"When this is over, she can have a productive life".

He said he accepted that Diamond was not able to make restitution.