Woman took money to keep her lifestyle

A woman who stole money while she was working in an opticians in Lurgan was given a suspended prison sentence last Wednesday at Craigavon Magistrates Court.

Thirty four year old Louise Lavery, of Milltown Avenue, Dunmurry, admitted ten charges of theft and one of fraud between January 1, 2007, and September 7, 2012.

For each of the thefts she was given five month jail terms and six months was imposed for the fraud.

All the sentences are to run concurrently, making a total of six months, and they were suspended for two years.

She was also ordered to pay £1,822 in compensation.

The court heard she had been working at Alexander Bain and Murray Opticians in Windsor Avenue, Lurgan. Police were told about a member of staff stealing money.

Lavery admitted taking cash payments and keeping them. She offered to repay the amount which came to £1,822.

A barrister for the defendant said the offences happened during the course of her employment.

He explained that Lavery and her husband were used to a certain way of life. He was in the building trade and with the down turn in the market she took the money to try and keep up her lifestyle as best she could.

The lawyer said a pre-sentence report was positive in that she had shown remorse and there was no likelihood of her re-offending.

He added that she had worked for the firm for 15 years and for 11 to 12 years there were no incidents and her work was good. She had raised £700 towards compensation.

District Judge, Mr Mervyn Bates, said it was obviously a serious matter. There was a long period of offending and there was some form of planning in trying to cover it up.

He added that Lavery was pregnant so this ruled out a combination order.