A Senior Crown Prosecutor who put in £5,800 worth of false travel expenses to help pay off his son’s university debt has been jailed for six months.
Eoin MacCarthy, a 57-year-old solicitor, pleaded guilty at Swindon Magistrates’ Court last week to one count of fraud after submitting 62 bogus claims for journeys from his home address in Devon to Bristol Crown Court over six months.
MacCarthy was normally based in Exeter and worked in the rape and sexual offences team, dealing with cases from Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Avon and Somerset police forces. He is currently suspended from work.
But over six months last year, he falsely claimed £5,780.50 – all of which he was able to self-authorise due to his position in the organisation and the fact that his claims were under £500.
A review by his area’s finances manager into travel expenses found that MacCarthy had put in more requests than anyone else and led to the investigation.
Suspicions were reportedly aroused as MacCarthy did not claim any extra time for the five-hour round trip to Bristol for some journeys and other claims were made when he was in the office, as well as when he was on holiday.
Admitting his misconduct, he told the CPS that after his son got into debt from university, he took out credit cards to sort it out.
He was unable to pay off those credit card debts and turned to payday loan companies.
Local media reported his defence counsel as saying that it had also cost MacCarthy his marriage: “He comes to court knowing that everything he has worked so hard for in his life has gone…
“It got to the point where he took an idiotic route. He was trying to help his son but the way he did it was completely the wrong thing to do… Mr MacCarthy has every intention of paying back the money he took from the CPS.”
The chairman of the bench, Peter Hyson, reportedly told MacCarthy that due to the severity of his offending, the matter passed the custody threshold and he imposed a six-month prison sentence.
“We have had to balance the impact that this has had on you and your professional standing, on your reputation in the community with the fact that you were in a position of trust and that position of trust was in the justice system,” he was quoted as saying.
A Solicitors Regulation Authority spokesman said the regulator was aware of the case and would be seeking all the relevant information before deciding on “appropriate action”.