A “RESPECTED AND trusted” assistant bank manager who stole over €127,000 from vulnerable customers and friends has been given a two and half year suspended sentence.
Owen Travers (61) with an address at Glen Easton Square, Leixlip, Co Kildare pleaded guilty to 15 counts of theft from seven customers over a number of years.
Travers said he wanted to convey his “deepest apologies” to all those affected by his actions at his sentence hearing last May at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
“The shame I’ve brought on myself and my family is unbearable and something I will have to live with for the rest of my life,” he said in a statement read out in court.
The court heard Travers, who was an assistant manager at AIB in Clondalkin between 2006 and 2012, stole money ranging in amounts from €200 to €25,000.
All of the victims were customers with whom he had a personal relationship and some of them had lent money to him in the past, prosecution barrister Pieter Le Vert, BL, said.
Judge Sinead Ní Chulachain accepted that all the money has been repaid to the bank and Travers has sought help for both his gambling addiction and alcoholism.
“When the house of cards came tumbling down around, you admitted yourself into John of Gods,” the judge said before adding that Travers appeared to have gained insight into his behaviour during his psychiatric care.
She accepted that his early admissions saved the State “a paper heavy and complex prosecution” and the Probation Service deem him at a low risk of re-offending if he stays away from alcohol and gambling.
It was also noted that he has engaged with the restorative justice programme and was considered suitable for community service.
“Serious breach of trust”
Judge Ni Chulachain said however, that Travers’ crime represented a “serious breach of trust”.
“You picked victims who were extremely vulnerable. It was calculated so that the chances of you getting caught were reduced,” she said.
Judge Ni Chulachain suspended the two and half year sentence on strict conditions including that Travers keep the peace and be of good behaviour for five years.
The court heard at the sentence hearing in May that Travers’ actions came to light in February 2012 after one of his victims noticed a significant amount of money missing from her elderly mother’s account. Nearly €25,000 had been taken in unauthorised transactions between July 2010 and January 2012.
The woman then noticed that €10,000 was missing from her own company’s account. She tried to contact Travers a number of times before taking the matter up with the bank.
She later received a call from Travers who told her:
It was me. I took the money. I’m sorry I took the money from your mother’s account.
The court heard Travers made similar admissions to his boss and told him he was checking into St John of God’s treatment centre for alcoholism and depression.
Travers later told gardaí he had gambling issues and a number of debts, including two struggling investment properties in Dublin and Portugal. He told gardaí he was suicidal at the time and “driving around hoping for a pole to crash into”, the court heard.
Well-liked and trusted
Mr Le Vert said Travers, who had worked at AIB since the age of 18, was “well-liked, respected and trusted”.
In victim impact statements handed into court, many of his victims said they cared more about Travers’ breach of trust and the fact that they had lost a friend rather than the money he took from them.
Although he took over €127,400, the total monetary loss to his victims was just under €90,000, as he moved money between accounts, the court heard.
Ronan Kennedy BL defending, said Travers, who had about 15 supporters in court, was a man who was “held in high esteem by his employers, customers and the wider community”.
“This has been a very significant fall from grace,” he said, adding Travers had lost his career and his status in the community.
Travers is now the primary homemaker for his wife and two children and will never work in the financial sector again, the court heard.
Mr Kennedy said he has no previous convictions and had a bank order in court to pay back the remainder of the money he had taken.