A businessman who used a form of cheque fraud known as “kiting” in an effort to keep his failing business afloat has received a suspended sentence.
Christopher Lovett (52) lodged cheques drawn on a closed account which were immediately credited to him and withdrew the funds before the bank’s clearance process had completed. The cheques, totalling almost €19,000, were ultimately returned unpaid and left the bank at a loss.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Lovett’s cleaning company had fallen into financial difficulties after losing a major contract and he was “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” with the ultimate intention of repaying the money.
Lovett, of Tamarisk Grove, Kilnamanagh, Dublin pleaded guilty to the theft of money at Bank of Ireland, Mespil Road on October 9, 2017.
Lovett, a married father-of-seven, has no previous convictions.
Garda Alan Young told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, that there was a total of three cheques involved and the money was withdrawn in card, debit and cash transactions before the cheques cleared.
Gda Young said Lovett was fully co-operative with gardaí. He said Lovett had been trying to keep his business afloat and had previously done something similar but had managed to pay the money back.
Gerardine Small BL, defending, said her client had always worked and continued to do so. She said his business, which once employed up to 30 people, started to fail after the loss of a major contract.
She outlined that he was a family man who had worked hard all his life, had entered an early guilty plea in this case and was anxious to repay the money. She said the bank would not engage with him until this matter was finalised.
Judge Martin Nolan said that taking into account all the circumstances of the case, he did not feel the court must impose a custodial sentence. He noted the mitigation was considerable.
The judge imposed a two-and-a-half-year sentence which he suspended in full on conditions including that Lovett repay €2,500 to the bank. He said the bank would have their own recourse in relation to the outstanding amount.