Dublin People

Vodafone employee avoids jail term after he stole €22,500 from the phone company

By Sonya McLean

A Vodafone employee who stole €22,500 from the company by issuing refunds to his bank account after the till had been balanced for the day has been given a suspended sentence.

Con Cowman (31) had been working as a retail advisor in the phone company’s shop in Dundrum Town Centre when the discrepancies were noted.

The refunds had all gone to the same card and it was noted that Cowman had been the only staff member rostered to work each of the days the transactions were processed.

He made admissions when questioned by HR in the company and was immediately suspended.

He later co-operated with the garda investigation and has since secured a bank loan to fully re-imburse Vodafone.

Cowman of Glenhill Avenue, Finglas, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to ten counts of stealing from Vodafone.

The court heard the pleas were acceptable to the State on the basis that they were representative of a total of 50 thefts by Cowman from January 1, 2020 to March 12, 2021.

He has no previous convictions and has not come to garda attention since.

Judge Melanie Greally accepted that Cowman has no previous convictions, has secured a loan to refund Vodafone and “seems to have learned his lesson”.

She said it was not a particularly sophisticated crime as he used the same “modus operandi” and once suspicions were aroused, he was easily identifiable.

Judge Greally noted the breach of trust involved in the offending before she set a headline sentence of 42 months.

She gave Cowman credit for his lack of previous convictions, co-operation with the garda investigation, guilty plea and previous good work history before she imposed a sentence of 28 months which she suspended in full on condition that he pay back Vodafone the money he had stolen.

Garda Kevin Kehoe told Edward Doocey BL, prosecuting that Vodafone alerted gardaí and a warrant was later secured to obtain all of Cowman’s bank records.

It became apparent that lodgements to his account corresponded with the dates of the refunds.

The staff roster also showed that he was working every day the refunds were made and CCTV from the shop covered the last three thefts by Cowman.

Gda Kehoe said the Cowman refunded various amounts to his own bank account after the store had closed for the day and the till had been cashed up and balanced.

He would then place his card into the machine and issue refunds, ranging from €150 to €750.

Gda Kehoe agreed with Luigi Rea BL defending that his client has since managed to secure a bank loan to fully cover what had been stolen.

He also accepted that it appears that Cowman has “learned his lesson”.

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