Thief must repay cash to Brownies

IPSWICH: A desperate and debt-ridden young woman who shamefully stole �900 from the Ipswich Brownie pack she supervised has been spared prison.

Today, Tanya O’Halloran, of All Saints Road, Ipswich, is serving a 16-week suspended prison sentence after admitting theft from 4th Ipswich Brownies, who meet at St John the Baptist Church in Cauldwell Hall Road.

O’Halloran must now pay back the �900 as compensation for the abuse of trust.

South East Suffolk Magistrates heard the 28-year-old childminder could not afford the repayments on a loan she had taken out and ended up cashing cheques from the Brownies’ funds.

After reading testimonials from O’Halloran’s parents and a previous employer, District Judge David Cooper said: “She knows she’s done wrong. She is ashamed. Whether sending her to prison makes her see that any more clearly, I doubt it.”

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He then told O’Halloran: “What you did was shameful and it was deceitful. Having said that, all of the people think highly of you.

“You have never been in trouble before, but I think you have just got yourself into a thorough muddle and you couldn’t get yourself out of it.”

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Earlier the court heard the theft took place in the late summer of 2008.

O’Halloran found herself in a position where she had access to three cheques, two of which she cashed for herself to the value of �900.

Mark Holt, mitigating, said O’Halloran had previously taken out a high-interest loan of �3,000 to pay for driving lessons and the decoration of her flat. However, she found herself unable to meet the interest payments.

In addition to the theft charge, O’Halloran was also given concurrent 16-week suspended sentences for separate offences of fraud by false representation and stealing a letter from her employer.

The court was told O’Halloran falsified a reference. The testimonial purported to be from a previous employer to a woman O’Halloran was working for.

She also stole a letter sent by her previous employer to her new one because she was worried it might be unfavourable and O’Halloran feared she would lose her job. She is now unemployed.

O’Halloran must also do 80 hours of unpaid work as part of her sentence.

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