Sentenced for role in ‘sophisticated scheme’ Trinity College hardship fund fraud

By Eimear Dodd

by Gazette Reporter
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Over €460,000 was defrauded from the Trinity College hardship fund in a “sophisticated scheme” which involved over 200 separate transactions, a court has heard.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told that a garda investigation is continuing into the scheme, which resulted in around €461,275 being defrauded from the fund.

A sum of €7,100 of this was transferred in four separate transactions between October 2020 and February 2021 into Jonathan McMahon’s AIB and Revolut accounts. 

An investigating garda told the court that there is no suggestion that McMahon personally applied to the hardship fund and that he has no connection to the college.

McMahon (27) of Greenwood Walk, Blunden Drive, Dublin 13, was arrested by appointment. When interviewed, he accepted that they were his accounts. He agreed that the money was not his, but he said that he had spent it.

The court heard gardai didn’t believe his explanation.

The investigating garda said the money transferred to McMahon’s Revolut account was quickly moved to a third party’s account, while the money transferred to his AIB account was withdrawn, and gardai believe it was handed over to others.

The court heard that gardai put to McMahon that he was reckless and that he didn’t seem to have made any money from the scheme when he was interviewed.

McMahon has no previous convictions and has not come to garda attention since this offence occurred. The investigating garda said it is unclear if McMahon acted as a money mule, adding there is no evidence that he was under duress.

The defence counsel said her client had a chaotic upbringing but a long work history. He is currently undertaking an apprenticeship and has brought €1,500 to court as compensation.

McMahon has started a new job and is willing to pay further compensation. The court was handed a letter from a former employer and an educational report from his time at secondary school.

McMahon has a mild intellectual disability and is easily led by others, defence counsel said. She added that her client was drinking heavily at the time of the offence and was involved with a negative peer group.

A letter of apology was also handed to the court. Counsel asked the court to consider leaving her client without a conviction and giving him the benefit of the Probation Act.

Judge Pauline Codd refused the defence’s application, saying it would be “inappropriate” to impose the Probation Act, noting the number of transactions and that the offences occurred over a four-month period.

She said McMahon had allowed his account to be used in a “sophisticated scheme” in which money was transferred to a large number of people.

She noted there is an “air of mystery “about where the money transferred to McMahon went and described him as a “small cog” in the “overall scheme of deception and fraud”.

Judge Codd imposed a one-year prison sentence, which she suspended in full on strict conditions. She said there was “significant mitigation” in this case, including McMahon’s guilty plea and expressions of remorse.

She directed him to hand over the sum of €1,500 and to pay an additional €2,000 as compensation to the hardship fund within the next 12 months.

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