Derry men guilty of £48,000 Stream Global Services fraud

Two Londonderry men who stole nearly £48,000 from a computer software firm have been jailed for 18 month each.

Stephen Lafford, 25, and Connor Deehan, 28, were sentenced at Londonderry Crown Court sitting in Belfast on Wednesday.

The court was told they stole the money from Lafford's employers and Deehan's former employers, Stream Global Services.

Half the sentence for the fraud will be served on licensed parole.

Prosecuting lawyer Roseanne McCormick said that between December 2008 and the following July, Lafford, of Kimberley Hill, paid funds into the bank account of Deehan, of Distillery Close.

The money had been meant as customer refunds but the defendants split it 50-50.

Mrs McCormick said that, given the paper trail left by the pair in taking £47,988, it was clearly inevitable that their crime would be easily detected.

'Immature young man'

She added that, when arrested and interviewed, both men told the police they knew "from the beginning" they would be caught.

Defence QC Elis McDermott said that reports on Lafford described him as an immature young man who was involved in what the prosecution had said was an unsophisticated operation.

Ms McDermott added that Lafford had initially spent half of his share on online gambling sites, while the remainder went on his baby daughter, just born at the time.

Martin Rodgers, for Deehan, said his client never sought to distance himself from the offence, and that his role was to provide Lafford with his bank details so that the money could be transferred into the account.

Reports on Deehan indicated that he was a person prone to compulsive and reckless behaviour and at the time was "at a loose end, skint, and was drinking".

Judge Piers Grant said he would give them substantial credit for their guilty pleas, although their "stupid and reckless offending" still called for an immediate custodial sentence.

Judge Grant said while initially they had started off taking relatively small amounts, they soon "decided to up the ante", taking ever-increasing sums of money which they spent "for their own benefit".