Cowman, Learned, his Lesson, Pay back in Full, and No More, Bull?

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Vodafone store worker stole €22,500 by issuing refunds to his own bank account

30th November 2022

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A Vodafone store employee stole €22,500 from the phone company by issuing refunds to his bank account after the till had been balanced for the day, a court heard. .

Con Cowman (31) had been working as a retail advisor in the phone company’s shop in Dundrum Town Centre in Co Dublin when the discrepancies were noted.

The refunds had all gone to the same card and it was noted that Cowman had been the only staff member rostered to work each of the days the transactions were processed.

He made admissions when questioned by HR in the company and was immediately suspended. He later co-operated with the garda investigation and has since secured a bank loan to fully re-imburse Vodafone.

Cowman of Glenhill Avenue, Finglas, Dublin, admitted ten counts of stealing from Vodafone.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told the pleas were acceptable to the State on the basis that these were representative of a total of 50 thefts by Cowman from January 1, 2020, to March 12 last year.

Judge Melanie Greally accepted Cowman has no previous convictions, has secured a loan to refund Vodafone and “seems to have learned his lesson”.

She said it was not a particularly sophisticated crime as he used the same “modus operandi” and once suspicions were aroused, he was easily identifiable.

Judge Greally noted the breach of trust involved in the offending.

Sentencing Cowman, she gave him credit for his lack of previous convictions, co-operation with the garda investigation, guilty plea and previous good work history before she imposed a sentence of 28 months which she suspended in full on condition he pay back Vodafone the money he had stolen.

Garda Kevin Kehoe told Edward Doocey, prosecuting, how Vodafone alerted gardaí and a warrant was later secured to obtain all Cowman’s bank records. It became apparent that lodgements to his account corresponded with the dates of the refunds.

The staff roster also showed he was working every day the refunds were made and CCTV from the shop covered the last three thefts by Cowman.

Gda Kehoe said the Cowman refunded various amounts to his own bank account after the store had closed for the day and the till had been cashed up and balanced.

He would then place his card into the machine and issue refunds, ranging from €150 to €750.

Gda Kehoe agreed with Luigi Rea, defending, that Cowman had since managed to secure a bank loan to fully cover what had been stolen.

He also accepted it appeared that Cowman had “learned his lesson”.

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