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"She's out": Relief among supporters as ex-Anglo official freed from jail

The original sentence should not have been so severe, Mr Justice George Birmingham said today.

AN EX-ANGLO Irish Bank official jailed for conspiring to conceal bank accounts from the Revenue Commissioners has walked free from jail following a successful sentence appeal.

Aoife Maguire (62), of Rothe Abbey, South Circular Road, Kilmainham, Dublin had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to conspiring to delete bank accounts from the bank’s internal system and conspiring to defraud the Revenue Commissioners on dates in 2003 and 2004.

Following a two month trial and nearly seven hours of deliberations, Maguire along with two co-accused were found guilty by a jury and she was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by Judge Patrick McCartan on 31 July.

Maguire, who was an assistant manager at Anglo Irish Bank, successfully appealed her sentence today on a number of grounds.

Quashed

The Court of Appeal quashed her original sentence, substituted a new nine month sentence in its place and suspended any unserved portion.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice George Birmingham said this was a serious offence.
An additional element of seriousness is that it was committed in a publicly quoted company and in a major bank, he added.

The banking sector was one where society is entitled to expect propriety and entitled to demand higher standards, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

Citing case law, the judge said that where a court was sentencing a first-time offender of previous good character, such a sentence need not be prolonged.

It was the fact of the sentence rather than the duration that was most important.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the sentencing judge erred firstly in selecting an “unnecessarily severe” sentence of 18 months, and then in failing to consider suspending any part of it.

In view of the court’s finding, Mr Justice Birmingham said it was unnecessary to consider further submissions made on Maguire’s behalf such as interactions between various officials or the fact that there is no open prison for Maguire to serve her sentence, unlike her male co-accused.

Prison

There was now an “implicit admission” of wrongdoing in that the appeal had been confined to an appeal against sentence only, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

The court also had regard to various testimonials.

The Governor of the Dochas women’s prison stated that Maguire had participated in all activities and attended classes in history, woodwork, knitting, photography, music appreciation and was studying Italian.

Her teachers found her to be an excellent student. She got on really well in prison, was extremely undemanding and helped others where possible. She also regularly assisted women who were nervous of being in prison for the first time, the court heard.

Some of the language was echoed in a testimonial submitted by a Fr McDermott from the Bluebell area, who stated that he knew her for 10 years and described her gentle and modest demeanour as an inspiration.

Suspended

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, quashed her original sentence, substituted in its place a term of nine months and suspended any unserved portion.

There were audible expressions of relief from about a dozen of Maguire’s supporters in court as the sentence was delivered. One person said “she’s out”.

She was required to enter into her own bond of €100 to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for one year. When asked if she undertook to be so bound, she said “I do” and subsequently thanked the court.

More on the case: Anglo officials jailed for trying to hide accounts connected to Sean FitzPatrick

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Ruaidhrí Giblin

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