Ultimatum to charity fraud defendants

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A family of alleged fraudsters accused of involvement in swindling more than £50k from a Lurgan children’s charity have been given two weeks to return home from the southern hemisphere or face arrest.

Defence solicitor Lloyd McKeag told Craigavon Magistrates Court there was ‘an agreed way forward’ in that flights from Australia had already been booked to facilitate a preliminary inquiry on March 11.

However, District Judge Bernie Kelly said given the case against Nuala Theresa Magee (48), Declan Shannon (44) and Niall Atkinson (24) had been ongoing since last October: “I want this listed sooner rather than later.

“There are flights that leave Australia every single day, in fact more than one.

“I am taking it for two weeks and if they are not here then I will issue warrants.”

Ms Magee, with an address at Ada Baker Street, Forde, Australia Capital Territory is charged with 23 counts of false accounting, five of transferring criminal property and one of stealing a Sony laptop computer from the Lurgan-based Together 4 All children’s charity, of which she was chief executive, on dates unknown between October 27, 2008, and June 23, 2011.

The charges of false accounting relate to the creation of allegedly false invoices amounting to £50,541 with many of the monies being paid to her husband Mr Shannon, her son Mr Atkinson or to DS Autoplex.

Mr Shannon, who has the same address, is charged with three counts of possessing criminal property 
amounting to a total of 
£10,837.

Mr Atkinson is charged with a single offence of possessing £3,600 of criminal property.

Although Mr Atkinson’s address in the court papers is listed as Laurelvale in Crumlin, Co Antrim, his solicitor told the judge his client was ‘somewhere in South East Asia’.

The judge listed the preliminary enquiry for January 28.

She said that was ‘more than ample time to arrange flights’.

However, she said that if they were eventually arrested, ‘that might actually be a cheaper way to get them here’.