Family accused of defrauding charity

There was a sitting of Longford District Court last week.
There was a sitting of Longford District Court last week.

A family of alleged fraudsters, accused of involvement in swindling more than £50,000 from a children’s charity in Lurgan, have been ordered to stand trial.

Having recently flown back from the Southern Hemisphere on the orders of a judge, 48-year-old Nuala Theresa Magee, her partner Declan Shannon, 44, and her 24-year-old son Niall Atkinson stood side by side at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court for the short preliminary enquiry on Wednesday.

Magee, with an address at Ada Baker Street, Forde, Australian Capital Territory, faces 23 counts of false accounting, five of transferring criminal property and one of stealing laptop computers and an iPod docking station from the Lurgan-based Together 4 All children’s charity, of which Magee was a chief executive, on dates unknown between 27 October 2008 and 23 June 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 Magee’s husband Shannon, her son Atkinson or to D S Autoplex. Shannon, who has the same address, faces three counts of possessing criminal property amounting to a total of £10,837 while Atkinson, from Laurelvale in Crumlin, is charged with a single offence of possessing £3,600 of criminal property.

The trio confirmed they were aware of the charges and that they were not objecting to the legal move, committing their case to the Crown Court for trial. A prosecuting lawyer submitted that on the basis of the evidence before the court, “there is a Prima Facie case”.

Although all three were given an opportunity to call witnesses or comment on the charges, with a warning that anything they said would be given in evidence, Magee, Shannon and Atkinson all responded “no.”

Returning the case to Craigavon Crown Court for trial with the defendants to be arraigned on 12 March, District Judge Kelly first checked where they would be living before granting bail.

The judge heard that Magee and Shannon would be living together on the Shore Road in Belfast while Atkinson, who had been on a gap year in south-east Asia before returning home, would be living with his father at Galwally Park in the south of the city.

Before releasing them on their own bail of £500 with sureties of £1,000, Judge Kelly ordered the three to surrender their passports but described that as a “waste of time” so in addition, she said passport offices in London, Belfast and Dublin would be notified that they were banned from being issued new ones.