A payroll administrator who stole over €870,000 from Virgin Media Television over a period of ten years has been remanded on bail pending sentence to spend time with her young family over Christmas.
Kellie Walton, 40, of Kilfenora Road, Kimmage, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to stealing €70,614 at Virgin Media Television, Westgate Business Park, Ballymount, Dublin, on an unknown date in 2019.
She also pleaded guilty to theft of €34,961 from Virgin Media at the same address also on an unknown date in 2009 and to one charge of false accounting between 2009 and 2019. She has no previous convictions and has not come to garda attention since.
Walton worked as a payroll administrator with the company since 2006.
Eoghan Cole BL, prosecuting, told the court that the pleas were representative of a number of sample charges of theft, one charge per year between 2009 and 2019 and that additional charges of money laundering could be taken into account.
Detective Garda John Tuttle outlined the various amounts stolen by Walton each year. He agreed with Mr Cole that each transaction typically involved less than €10,000 which Walton then transferred to either one of two bank accounts that she had control over.
The largest amount stolen any year was over €120,000 with a total amount of €872,437 taken, Det Garda Tuttle said.
Walton's barrister told the court that her client didn’t use the money to fund a lavish lifestyle or buy high end cars or designer clothes but rather used it to "soften the edges of family life".
Fiona Murphy SC said her client began stealing at a time when her partner could not work due to ill health and the family were under "financial stress" but it then became something that "got out of control".
"As matters progressed, she got caught in a web," Ms Murphy said, describing how Walton lived in constant fear of being caught and was "haunted by her actions".
"She was looking over her shoulder for 10 years," counsel said, adding that Walton lived in constant fear and anxiety and "lived half a life while waiting for the other shoe to drop".
Ms Murphy said her client lives in rented accommodation and doesn’t have a family home to show for it. "The money was frittered away on low end dispensable items," counsel said.
"The amounts involved are more than softening the edges," Judge Melanie Greally said having considered that many of the amounts taken each year equated to a significant annual salary.
"I don’t know what her family thought she was doing career-wise enabling her to share the benefits of her employment so generously," the judge continued.
Judge Greally said she needed time to consider the contents of various reports, letters and testimonials handed in behalf of Walton.
She asked Ms Murphy if her client "wanted to be at liberty over Christmas". The woman has four children aged from one year old to 20 years old.
Counsel said Walton was fully expecting to be going to jail today but said she may want to spend this Christmas with her children and asked to be allowed to take an instruction from her client.
Ms Murphy thanked the judge for the opportunity and said that Walton would like to have her case finalised in the new year.
Walton was remanded on continuing bail and the case adjourned to 19 January.