A three-year suspended prison sentence was imposed on a 72-year-old credit union executive who took out loans on his son’s behalf in West Cork without his son’s knowledge, causing a loss of 35 000 €.
Detective Garda DJ O’Shea today confirmed that Matthew Heffernan of 5 Vereker Gardens, Ennis Road, Limerick has repaid the entire € 35,000 loss to the credit union and has never had a hard time before or since.
Retail Garda O’Shea said the accused used the loans to buy property in Portugal and Bulgaria, but with the economic collapse of 2008 he found himself in difficulty and unable to make repayments.
He pleaded guilty to six counts of deception in Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said: “The breach of trust, he was at the time an employee of the credit union, is significant. The initial amount was large, but in the end the actual loss was $ 35,000.
“I take the guilty plea into consideration because all cases like this can be difficult to prosecute. It has nothing prior. I impose a concurrent three-year sentence on all charges and a conditional sentence on the condition that he keeps the peace for three years. Retail Garda O’Shea previously described the background to the crime and updated that evidence for the judge today.
Matthew Heffernan had obtained loans from the Berehaven Credit Union, Main Street, Castletownbere, on various dates between 2004 and 2009 by deception on behalf of Liam Heffernan without his son’s knowledge.
“He used his position to open accounts on behalf of people without their knowledge,” det. said Garda O’Shea. One of those people who was unaware that his name was so used was Liam Heffernan, a son of the Respondent.
Retail Garda O’Shea said that when Liam Heffernan found out what was going on, he returned from London and went to Limerick Garda station to file a complaint that his father, Matthew, had obtained loans in his name (Liam) without his knowledge. .
The total amount of money obtained by deception was effectively € 35,000.
Retail Garda O’Shea said the first loan Matthew Heffernan got on his son’s behalf was € 99,000 but it has been repaid. More money was obtained in the form of refinancing, said the detective.
Mr. O’Dwyer said the accused fully cooperated with the investigation and made a candid confession.
Defense attorney Alan O’Dwyer said the accused was a man suffering from serious health problems with chronic mobility issues and had fully reimbursed the loss.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin had previously said, in light of the fact that the accused had been a field officer for the League of Credit Unions, “I doubt anyone really knew what was going on because of his position.”