Northern Ireland news

Wedding planner pleads guilty to fraud of couples

Nicola Currell from Glenarm leaves Ballymena Magistrates after an earlier appearance. Picture by Mark Jamieson

A WEDDING planner has pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of her position after transferring funds from accounts set up by couples for their wedding days.

Nicola Currell of Coastguard Cottages in Glenarm in Antrim committed the fraud at the Galgorm Resort and Spa near Ballymena.

Currell (40) admitted 11 charges that while occupying a position in which she was expected to safeguard or not to act against the financial interests of Galgorm Resort and Spa she dishonestly abused that position.

The court heard she made unauthorised transfers of funds from Galgorm wedding accounts in the names of couples to other wedding accounts held by the resort, with the intention, "by means of the abuse of that position to make a gain for yourself or another or to cause loss to Galgorm Resort and Spa or to expose Galgorm Resort and Spa to a risk of a loss".

Her case had been listed to start as a trial at Antrim Crown Court next Monday but at the same court on Wednesday she pleaded guilty. A twelfth charge of transferring criminal property was left on the books.

The fraud relates to dates between 2008 and 2011.

When she was previously arraigned on the charges at Antrim Crown Court she had replied "not guilty". At that court her defence lawyer said: "This case comes down to the movement of money between various accounts in the hotel."

He said at the time the issue was "very complicated" and would benefit from being looked at "forensically" by an accountant.

At the court this week Currell was released on continuing bail and pre-sentence reports are now being prepared ahead of her return to court in October.

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