A COUNTY Donegal school principal has pleaded guilty to a series of embezzlement and fraud charges involving tens of thousands of euro.
Finbarr Boyle, from Ardara, had his sentence adjourned until next December to allow him to pay back €25,000 of the €200,000 he stole from Kilnaleck National School in a nasty crime which deprived hundreds of kids of school dinners for four years.
Cavan Circuit Court heard that the 35-year-old had told an outside catering company to stop providing school meals to the school in 2008 by claiming a Department of Social Protection grant had been stopped.
However the grant hadn’t been stopped at all – and Boyle pocketed the cash.
Garda Sergeant Michael Fitzpatrick told the court that Boyle had spent the cash on meals, holidays, his car and a lot of expensive golf equipment.
He had spent €66,000 on a school credit card alone.
He pleaded guilty to seven sample charges of theft including five separate counts of stealing a total of €73,320 from the Department of Social Protection between November 2009 and February 2011.
He also admitted forgery in creating false invoices for food.
The court heard Boyle – also known as Fionbar O Baoill and a regular teacher at an Irish language summer school in Ranafast – was from Ardara and had been living with his elderly parents since his wife left him.
He was living on the dole and was unable to get a job.
A character reference was made by a number of retired teachers including Gerry Murphy who runs Coláiste Rann na Feirste who pleaded for leniency in the case.
Mr Murphy said Boyle was a brilliant teacher who had made a mistake.
Sgt Fitzpatrick said the crimes had a devastating effect on the village where Boyle had been principal from 2005. Parents were angry and upset, he said.
Judge John Aylmer said he would allow Boyle a year to pay back €25,000 from the money stolen and adjourned sentence until next December.
He said he wasn’t making any promises but if Boyle paid the money he would be minded not to impose a custodial sentence.