A former ticket sales manager with Belfast’s Grand Opera House has avoided jail after pleading guilty to stealing more than £20,000 from the venue over a five-year period.
Eamonn McColgan was accused of stealing £20,602 between February 2013 and February 2018 and charged with fraud by abuse of position. The theft came to light following checks by the venue’s head of finance.
Belfast’s Crown Court was told that McColgan, who had been employed since 2007, had siphoned money from legitimate customer purchases into four different accounts in his own name, in nearly 400 bogus ticket-refund transactions.
Defence barrister Martin Morgan said in mitigation that McColgan had been under “certain financial pressures” during the period and had since repaid all the stolen money.
In passing sentence, Judge Stephen Fowler QC said: “There is no doubt these sums of money would have been very important, and I accept it had an impact upon the Opera House.”
Handing down a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, Judge Fowler warned McColgan that any further demeanour would “in all probability” result in a prison term.