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Meath woman who defrauded well known Dublin barbershop gets suspended jail sentence

The court heard that Ms Finnegan fraudulently induced Bank of Ireland to transfer the sum of €29,000.

A WOMAN WHO admitted defrauding a well-known Dublin barbershop of over €35,000 has been given a fully-suspended sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Linda Finnegan (51) of The Orchard Drive, Stamullen, Co Meath, and her late father Liam Finnegan, set up the Waldorf Barbers on Westmoreland Street, Dublin 2 together and ran it successfully for many years, the court heard.

However, the relationship between father and daughter soured and Ms Finnegan pleaded guilty to fraud under the Companies Act on 27 March, 2019, about a month after her father’s death from cancer.

At her sentencing today, the court heard that Ms Finnegan fraudulently induced Bank of Ireland to transfer the sum of €29,000 to her on the day in question.

The court heard that she had initially denied three charges of theft and taken a trial date, but that she pleaded guilty to a fourth count of fraud when this was presented.

Judge Orla Crowe said that Ms Finnegan’s actions caused the company to go into liquidation, however, the judge acknowledged that the defendant thought she was entitled to withdraw the money.

Judge Crowe set a headline sentence of two and a half years, but in light of Ms Finnegan’s guilty plea and other mitigating circumstances, she reduced this to one year and nine months, suspended in full.

The court also noted that Ms Finnegan had shown remorse and was a hardworking mother who had cooperated fully with the garda investigation.

At a previous hearing, Garda Martin Doohan told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, that Finnegan and her late father had both been directors of the barbershop until they had a “significant falling out” in 2016.

The court heard that when Liam Finnegan was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, he stopped his day-to-day running of the business and two other employees took over.

Mr Finnegan died in February 2019 and the two employees continued to run the business.

Bank statements handed to gardaí by the company the following year show two withdrawals in March 2019 made without permission by Linda Finnegan, for the sums of €4,950 and €28,000.

A month later, Ms Finnegan withdrew €2,651 from Waldorf Babers, again without permission from the company.

Gardaí obtained warrants to search Ms Finnegan’s house and she brought officers to her bedroom where she pointed out two envelopes containing cash sums of €4,950 and €10,000.

This money was seized by gardaí.

The total sum misappropriated by Ms Finnegan amounted to €35,601, said Gda Doohan.

CCTV footage was obtained of Ms Finnegan making the withdrawals in March 2019 and she was arrested by appointment.

The court heard that the late Mr Finnegan had owned 75% of the business and his daughter Linda had a 25% share.

Mr Finnegan’s will bequeathed his 75% share to the two other employees running the business, the court heard.

The court heard that Ms Finnegan initially took a trial date but later pleaded guilty.

The company went into liquidation as a result of the fraud but the two former employees are still trading as Waldorf Barbers under a new legal name.

Ms Finnegan has not come to any garda attention before or since and has no previous convictions, the court heard.

Gda Doohan agreed with Rebecca Smith BL, defending, that Ms Finnegan had written a remorseful letter, saying if she could turn back time and change how she dealt with the situation, she would.

The prosecuting garda also agreed that there was an issue with the father’s will and that Ms Finnegan had experienced huge difficulties growing up with her father in the family home.

Gda Doohan accepted that Ms Finnegan was most unlikely ever to come before the courts again.

Several letters were handed in to court from Ms Finnegan’s friends, neighbours and family confirming her good character and expressing shock that someone like her could come before the courts.

The court heard Ms Finnegan left school at 14, did a barbering course and has worked ever since.

Ms Smith said her client had played a huge role in growing the company and that when she found out about her father’s will in 2017, she got some legal advice.

Ms Finnegan was a 25% shareholder in the company and believed she was entitled to withdraw money from the firm, counsel said.

However, Ms Finnegan now accepts that her actions resulted in the ultimate winding up of the company.

The prosecution has weighed very heavily on her mind for the last couple of years and her marriage has broken down, the court heard.

Ms Finnegan is on social welfare and has three children, two of whom live with her. They are currently experiencing housing difficulties, counsel said.

The court heard that Ms Finnegan has made the sum of €14,900 available to the company’s liquidator.

Jessica Magee and David O'Sullivan
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